Schwarzenegger lost Cry Macho role to Eastwood

Warner Bros first spoke to the “Terminator” actor about the project in 2003

While it’s hard to image anyone else but Clint Eastwood in the role of Mike Milo in “Cry Macho”, Clint Eastwood wasn’t always penciled in to play the veteran cowboy.

In 2003, just as he was eyeing his transition into politics, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a lock to star in the film adaptation of N. Richard Nash’s 1975 novel.

18 years ago, the “Terminator” actor sat down for a meeting with Warner Bros and was consequently offered two projects : A big-budget remake of western classic “Westworld” (potentially co-starring Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis) or a more intimate character drama in which he’d play a has-been rodeo-scene player who is assigned to escort an old colleague’s son home from Mexico.

Schwarzenegger, likely keen to stretch his acting muscles after quite a few of his recent action pics failed to ignore the box office, opted for “Cry Macho”. Schwarzenegger was then awarded the keys to the city, becoming California’s big guy, and the project was put on indefinite pause.

After he left office, the former Governor of California flirted with the project again. At that stage, “Lincoln Lawyer” director Brad Furman was set to direct.

“It’s a little movie that got my attention because it is so opposite of what you’d expect someone like me to do”, Schwarzenegger told EW at the time. “It’s about a guy who is a horse trainer. He’s a little bit over-the-hill. The last two years didn’t go so well. But then the owner of the horses gives him a challenge. He sends him to Mexico to get his son. The owner’s wife cheated him out of a business and took their son, and the owner wants to pay her back, so he sends the trainer to get his kid. And it becomes a movie about the relationship between the boy, who never had a parent that cared about him, and this horse trainer. I don’t know if that will be my next movie, but it could be. It’s a really wonderful story.”

This time, however, some controversial headlines lost the “Jingle All the Way” star the gig. Remember these?

Clint Eastwood, who had been interested in the project as way back as the ’80s (instead opting to do “Dirty Harry in the Dead Pool”), was approached again by Albert S.Ruddy about the film in 2020. Story goes that, after he nixed the idea, Eastwood suggested Robert Mitchum for the role of Milo in the 1988 incarnation but the proposal went unheard. Feeling it might be a better fit for him now, Ruddy contacted the 91-year-old actor and director about giving it another glance.

Cinema’s Dirty Harry felt the time was ripe now.

“I knew the character needed some mileage on him”, Eastwood told Parade.

“Cry Macho” is now screening in US theaters and available on HBO Max; it hits cinemas in Australia November 22.

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