“There Were Some Clint Eastwood Movies I Didn’T Love”: ‘Unforgiven’ Writer Took A Leap Of Faith With Oscar Winner Hoping For The Best After His Initial Remark


In the long-standing history of the Western genre, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven undoubtedly stands as a pinnacle of cinematic achievement. Set in the waning days of the Wild West, the film delivered a morally complex narrative that stuck with fans, even after decades.

Yet, behind this masterpiece lies a journey filled with uncertainty and bold leaps of faith from Unforgiven screenwriter David Peoples. Sharing his journey from disliking a few of Clint Eastwood’s Western movies to praising the legend, Peoples expressed his honest opinion on Unforgiven.

David Peoples Initial Remarks on Clint Eastwood’s Westerns

Premiering in theaters in August 1992, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven became his triumphant farewell to the genre that not only turned him into a legend but also earned him several coveted awards. But much as Eastwood is credited for the success of the genre-defining movie, screenwriter David Peoples shares an equal contribution to the project.

Originally written by David Peoples, as The William Munny Killings in 1976, the screenplay was later purchased by Clint Eastwood in the early 1980s. But surprisingly, the star held off on making the film for years. This delay initially instilled a bit of uncertainty in Peoples, which was later aggravated after Eastwood changed the title as well as the ending of the story.

Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment in 2022, David Peoples thus offered his initial remarks on Clint Eastwood’s Westerns. Expressing the concerns and reservations he harbored, after the legendary actor/director bought the screenplay, Peoples admitted taking a giant leap of faith, hoping for the film to get its deserving recognition with the Oscar winner.

I really began to be a huge fan of his when I saw Bronco Billy in 1980. That’s an absolutely wonderful film and Clint gives a superb performance in it. So I was aware that he was a really good storyteller, and I began to notice that he made movies where he was a big star and made a lot of money and then he would also make a movie where he just wanted to tell a story.

When he bought Unforgiven, I hoped I would get the terrific Clint Eastwood because there were some Clint Eastwood movies I didn’t love. I thought, “Well, I hope he does something good,” but there are never any guarantees in the movie business.


Although David Peoples appreciated a few of Clint Eastwood’s movies, there was a fair share of Westerns under his name that the screenwriter didn’t like. Therefore, although Peoples was worried about how Unforgiven would turn out to be, he mentioned entrusting his faith in Eastwood.

David Peoples’ Leap of Faith Served Well for Unforgiven

While David Peoples’ screenplay for Unforgiven was a masterstroke, blending elements of redemption and vengeance, yet, its journey to the silver screen was far from assured. Therefore, after reflecting on his initial skepticism towards some of Clint Eastwood’s earlier works, admitting about not liking some of the legend’s earlier movies, Peoples later forged an indelible partnership with the actor/director.

Following their collaboration, David Peoples took a leap of faith, entrusting his script to Clint Eastwood’s capable hands, hoping for the best despite his initial reservations. Peoples admitted during the interview how his decision was born out of his belief in the power of storytelling and Eastwood’s potential in steering the film toward its success.

After he bought the script in 1984 or 1985, he mentioned to me on the phone that he thought it was good and that he’d like to grow into the part — that he wasn’t ready for it. But when he was ready, he did it.

And when I was writing it, I wasn’t thinking of Clint Eastwood as much I was just thinking about those other movies I mentioned earlier. I was just hopeful that he would do what was there on the page, and he nailed it.

Praising Clint Eastwood for turning the screenplay into a cinematic triumph, David Peoples admitted that the result was nothing short of legendary. Unforgiven swept the 1993 Academy Awards, bagging four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood. Meanwhile, Peoples’ screenplay earned him well-deserved recognition and launched him as a visionary screenwriter.