John Wayne was initially offered the role of ‘Dirty Harry” which Clint Eastwood ended up playing so successfully and convincingly.
It wasn’t until John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman had all passed on the opportunity to play the uncompromising San Francisco cop that Eastwood was offered the role. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than a snarling, squinting Clint as Harry Callahan. But, it could have ended up as “The Duke’s” part to play if the producers would have had their “first choice”.
This is just one interesting example of Hollywood’s most fascinating casting decisions.
Many of these behind the scenes Hollywood backstories were compiled in a book entitled: “Hollywoods First Choices–How The Greatest Casting Decisions Were Made”. The book was co-authored by Hollywood insiders Jeff Burkhart and Bruce Stuart and was published in 1994. If you love movies and the lore of the movie making business, this is a book you should try to find.
We have often heard it said that he (or she) was “born to play that part”. It gets very interesting when one considers how often luck alone played it’s part in iconic roles ending up in the hands of just the right performer.
Harry Callahan, glowering down at the cornered culprit uttered the following: “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky……well, do ya…punk?”
Perhaps, if John Wayne had played the part, it would have read: “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky…well do ya……..pilgrim?”
Well, then again, maybe not.