“I Would Have Gone Insane”: Clint Eastwood Rejected One Of The Greatest War Movies Ever Made Despite Eyeing 1 Role He Wanted To Play


Apocalypse Now famously had one of the most troubled productions in film history. Francis Coppola took years to produce a film that had a schedule of just 16 weeks, and even that made it immensely suspicious to Clint Eastwood, who was approached to play a role in the film.

After a string of successes at the box office, Eastwood’s bankable face and name made him quite the sought-after figure in Hollywood. This involved being offered the role of Willard in Apocalypse Now, something that came as a reference from Steve McQueen. However, there were a few situations that Eastwood had to solve before he could accept the project.

Clint Eastwood dodged a bullet turning Apocalypse Now down

Clint Eastwood, despite not being interested in the role, was given a call by Coppola to talk about the part. Eastwood declined for various reasons, including the fact that he had just bought a house, and would have preferred spending more time with his family. However, given how the project has extended Eastwood revealed his comments, while speaking to David Breskin. The actor said:

“Two years later, they were still shooting, and Martin Sheen had had a heart attack, and I thought: ‘Goddamn! That could be all of us!’. I saw the documentary [Hearts of Darkness],and it was terribly amusing. Francis is a nice guy and everything, but two years — I would have gone insane!”

Clint Eastwood referred to the Heart of Darkness, a documentary that followed the troubled and eventful production of Apocalypse Now. The name of the documentary comes from the novel Heart of Darkness, the inspiration for Apocalypse Now. While the film is set in Vietnam, the novel’s plot unravels in the Congo.


Clint Eastwood did not understand the script’s ending

Even if the production for the film was not as long as it ended up being, Eastwood would still have a very hard time joining to cast. Between familial commitments and not being able to understand the script, Eastwood would have still been unable to join the cast for the amount of time it was required of him. He revealed:

“Then later, Francis called — and I had just bought a house, and my children were very young — and he said they were going to go to the Philippines for sixteen weeks. It was just too long. If it were eight weeks, I would have done it. And I said I didn’t understand the ending. He said they were going to work on that.”

As fate would have it, the production would almost bankrupt Francis Ford Coppola, who spent the next two years, between the failing health of actors, bad weather and drug epidemic, filming and finishing his Vietnam War epic, which finally saw the light of day in theatres on 15th August 1979.

Despite Steve McQueen referring him for the role of Willard (so that he himself could be done with production work as Kurtz), Eastwood backed away from the project and negotiation, probably saving his home life and career from a difficult period.