How Clint Eastwood Convinced Gene Hackman To Join ‘Unforgiven’


Clint Eastwood doesn’t seem like the type of person that would have to thoroughly convince someone to work with him.

The 91-year-old has been a huge player in the entertainment world since he reached great success from his Western role “Rawhide.” Over the years, he became even more popular for roles in the “Dollars Trilogy,” “Dirty Harry” films, “Million Dollar Baby” and so many more.

Eventually, Eastwood would also start a very successful career as a film director as well.

In fact, he won his first Best Director Oscar for his Western film “Unforgiven” in 1992. He also won Best Picture and was nominated for Best Actor. It was also awarded Best Film Editing for Joel Cox. Seeing the movie’s great success, it’s hard to imagine one of the main characters not being along for the ride.

Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman ‘Unforgiven’

The film also stars Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris. Although, Eastwood said during an interview with the American Film Institute in 2009.

“I submitted it to Gene Hackman and Gene I’d known for many years, but we had never worked together. He was in a mood at that time and he said ‘I don’t want to do any more violent pictures. I’m tired of it …’” Eastwood explained in the video interview.

However, Clint Eastwood was confident that this movie wasn’t just another gory, violence-filled movie with no substance. His faith in the movie turned out to be pretty validated.

“I said, ‘You know, I know exactly where you’re coming from, but read it again because I think we can make a great statement against violence and κıււıոɡ if we do this right.’ It’s all in the execution, you gotta execute it right, or else nothing means anything. He re-read it and came back and said, ‘Yeah, okay, I’ll do this,’” Eastwood also said.


Although Gene Hackman was on the fence, it seems to have been a good move for him. “Unforgiven” is critically acclaimed and Hackman walked away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar as well.

Since then, Eastwood has said that “Unforgiven” would be his last Western ever. He believes he would just be rehashing old plot lines if he continued. That clearly didn’t end up sticking, however. He just released a neo-Western drama called “Cry Macho,” in which he stars and directs.

‘Unforgiven’ Landmark Film

For Eastwood, his goal is just to create Westerns that stand out from the rest. “Unforgiven” purposefully deconstructs the typical vision of the American West portrayed in other works.

Eastwood has expected Hackman to try to turn down the Little Bill role. He had made it clear that his life was better without violent films. This decision came after he had almost had a heart attack in the latter 1980s.

“About every third or fourth movie I’ll do is of really serious, personal interest to me. I’ve got to say this picture, ‘Unforgiven,’ is one of those third or fourth pictures in the cycle. It has so much to say about the issue of violence, about the myth of heroism, that I found a lot of my own attitude toward violent entertainment articulated in the characters and their situations,” Hackman said, according to a 1992 The Baltimore Sun article.

You may remember Hackman for his particularly violent roles like “The French Connection,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Mississippi Burning,” and “No Way Out.”