“Except Maybe, Get Rid Of It Fast”: Clint Eastwood Would Have Made The Biggest Mistake Of His Life If He Had Listened To 1 Associate For The Best Movie Of His Career


Western dramas have been all the rage lately, but there was a time when the genre was falling behind. That is, until Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was released. The film takes place in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, and follows the story of William Munny, a former outlaw. The film was quite well received by both fans and critics and is still considered one of the best movies of Clint Eastwood’s career.

However, if Clint Eastwood had taken a harsh piece of advice from one of his close associates, he wouldn’t have been a part of the film. The associate strictly told the filmmaker/actor to throw out the script without paying any attention to it and while he complied for a bit, his eyes later fell on the script and he immediately fell in love with the story. Amd the rest, as they say, is history.

Clint Eastwood’s Associate Almost Cost Him Unforgiven

When David Webb Peoples wrote the story for Unforgiven, it was titled ‘The William Munny Killings’ and ‘The Cut-Whore Killings.’ While the script could have been absolutely mind-blowing, the shortlisted names were enough to drive away many creatives from directing the film.

However, The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola saw Peoples’ vision and optioned the script. But when he couldn’t manage to get the film off the ground and the option expired, Clint Eastwood came into the picture.

His attachment to Unforgiven didn’t come easy either. He was discouraged from directing the film by none other than his close associate Sonia Chernus, who worked with Eastwood on Rawhide and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

After reading Peoples’ script, Chernus told Eastwood (Via Flickering Myth) in one of her memos,

We would have been far better off not to have accepted trash like this piece of inferior work. I can’t think of one good thing to say about it. Except maybe, get rid of it fast.


Yikes… the late writer sure was a little too harsh on the film, wasn’t she? Eastwood complied with her wishes and didn’t even bother reading the script. But when he finally decided to give it a chance, he fell in love with the story. So much so, that he ended up taking the lead role for himself.

Unforgiven Proved Everyone Wrong

While different creatives may have had their doubts about Unforgiven’s potential, Eastwood saw it with a fresh set of eyes. And his belief in the screenplay yielded unending rewards for him.

During its opening weekend, the film debuted at the top position and made $15 million, the best-ever opening amongst Eastwood’s films back then. On Rotten Tomatoes, Unforgiven flaunts a high rating of 96%, and the critical consensus credits Eastwood for stripping away “decades of Hollywood varnish applied to the Wild West.”

Los Angeles Times even went as far as to say that Unforgiven was the best in the genre since 1956’s The Searchers by John Ford, a project that is considered a masterpiece and is listed amongst the most influential films of all time.

Unforgiven was also nominated for nine Academy Awards and took home four of them, including one for Best Director. It was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Clearly, the film managed to prove everyone who ever doubted it wrong!