You imagine Crystal jungle with Clint Eastwood in place of Bruce Willis? Probably not, but that was the original idea of the writers. Had this been the case, the history of cinema would have been very different. Crystal jungle not only launched the career of Bruce Willis as the prototype of the action hero but also changed our image of these protagonists. The trend in the ’80s was to give the gun to statuesque, testosterone-heavy heroes like Sylvester Stallone (Rambo1982) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (terminator1984), but the history of Crystal jungle called for a different hero, more akin to the cynical Clint Eastwood of Dirty Harry (1971). However, Clint Eastwood was tough in a stuffy way that was completely different from what we ultimately saw. If he hadn’t turned down the role, we might never have met the tough, sweaty hero John McClane founded.
Of course, we see this now with the powers of the captain a posteriori. In 1988 Willis was the last person anyone in the studio could have in mind. He had only appeared in a handful of movies and before being an action star he was known as the protagonist of that serial in the key of romantic comedy and private detective that he was. Moonlight. So the director of Crystal jungle, John McTiernan and his producers went with the pitch to Clint Eastwood. He rejected them.
According to what screenwriter Jeb Stuart, who wrote the film’s script with Steven E. de Souza, told them for the first time, Eastwood told them that he did not understand the sense of humor of Crystal jungle. It was a shock, because they had written the dialogues with precisely the way in which Dirty Harry and the nameless cowboy from the ‘dollar trilogy’ chewed on the words. That’s what Stuart told SlashFilm:
First the producers turned to Clint Eastwood. Ironically, his response was: ‘I don’t understand the humor.’ Which, to me, was a shock because if you listen to a lot of those words, Eastwood is one of the few people who could have uttered a line like, ‘Come to LA, have a good time. All that kind of stuff. You could see him doing that. He was my inspiration.
It is known that after this rejection they offered the role to another dozen actors. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, and Richard Gere, to name just a few, turned him down as well. By the time John McClane ended up in the hands of Bruce Willis, the producers had so little confidence in him that they didn’t even include him in the first posters.
The rest, however, is history. One of the best action movies of all time, the first installment in a saga that had four other sequels, a classic between Christmas movies and Bruce Willis’ sweaty, ripped tank top.
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Why Clint Eastwood Rejected ‘Jungle of Glass’
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