Clint Eastwood

Sergio Leone Found the Most Unusual Solution To His Problem After Forcing Clint Eastwood To Smoke a Cigar

Sergio Leone faced an unusual problem after casting Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars


  • Sergio Leone cast Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars due to the actor’s limited expressions.
  • Leone wanted to give Eastwood’s character a signature look which he achieved with the help of cigars.
  • Despite turning his Man With No Name character iconic, Eastwood despised the taste of the cigars.

Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood are easily among the best director-actor duos in cinema history. The pair are known for their influence on the Western genre, especially because of the spaghetti Western films they collaborated on during the 1960s. Leone and Eastwood first worked together on the 1964 film A Fistful of Dollars.

Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars
Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars

During the production of A Fistful of Dollars, Leone had a very particular issue with Eastwood’s acting skills. However, the clever director figured out an unconventional solution to his problem, resulting in Eastwood’s character becoming one of the most iconic cowboys in the Western genre. Here is the issue Sergio Leone faced while directing Clint Eastwood and how he resolved it.

Sergio Leone Forced Clint Eastwood To Smoke a Cigar, Solving His Issue

Sergio Leone
Sergio Leon directed A Fistful of Dollars (Image Credit: BBC Archives/YouTube)

Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, starring Clint Eastwood, catapulted the actor to major stardom in the United States. However, Eastwood was nowhere near the first choice for the role of the Man With No Name that made him so popular. Leone originally wanted to cast Henry Fonda in the role but could not afford his acting fees and only landed on Eastwood after several actors turned down the role.

“More than an actor, I needed a mask, and Eastwood, at that time, only had two expressions: with hat and no hat.”

Leone made the above statement about Eastwood’s casting during an interview. As a result, Leone likely had trouble crafting the broody and fierce look that defined the character of Man With No Name due to the perceived limited acting range of Eastwood. As a result, Leone came up with an unconventional solution.

According to a tweet on X, Leone forced Eastwood to hold a cigar in his mouth during filming. However, Eastwood did not like the taste of tobacco in his mouth, resulting in a scowl. Meanwhile, the scorching heat of the Italian summer forced the actor to squint. Thus, the Man With No Name’s iconic squinty-eyed, scowling look was born through a series of coincidences.

Clint Eastwood Hated Smoking Cigars

In a 2009 interview with The Independent, Eastwood revealed that Leone trusted him to sort out his own wardrobe. Along with his assortment of hats, Eastwood stated that he also brought along some cigars that he felt would look good in a Western movie.

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood

Eastwood explained that despite the visual appeal of the cigars he disliked their taste.

“I had no idea they’d taste so vile! But I brought those along with me and I gave them to props and we cut them all up.”

Eastwood continued by revealing that the cigars were called Virginia. He had cut a few of the cigars in different sizes and carried them around in his pocket while filming different scenes.

However, from Eastwood’s statement, it is evident he did not like their taste further corroborating the story that his character’s iconic scowl was born from the distasteful cigars. Nonetheless, Eastwood’s dislike for smoking cigars is likely one of the reasons behind the actor’s long lifespan, having turned 93 last year.

A Fistful of Dollars is available to stream on Max.

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