Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eli sleeps with Clint.

From THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND ME In My Anecdotage
by Eli Wallach

The next day Leone gave a small party where I was first introduced to my costars, Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef; both were veterans of Leone's previous Westerns. This would be Clint's third film working with him. Also in attendance were the members of Leone's technical crew. The wine and the Italian food all served to relax me. Leone talked about the film, the shooting schedule, and the locations and, at one point, he pulled me aside.
"Rest today," Leone said. "And the day after tomorrow, we will start with scenes six and seven."
Upon reading the call sheet for the first day of shooting, I couldn't believe my eyes. We were to leave the hotel at 6:30 A.M., drive for one hour to a Western set outside Rome, get into makeup, and be on set ready to shoot by 8:00. This was a far more grueling schedule than anything I had ever experienced in Hollywood.
In the first scene we were to shoot, my character, Tuco, is taken to a public square to be hanged. "E-li," Leone said to me as I stood on the set - he always used my first name with a strong stress on the last two letters - "You will be on the back of the horse screaming. Clint will turn you over to the sheriff and collect his reward for your capture."
"Fine, fine," I said.
"We will not shoot in sequence," he said. "You will be hanged after we move to location in Spain. Clint will shoot the rope and you will ride off on horseback."
Two days later Clint and I flew to Madrid, where we were to spend the night before we would fly to Almeria on the southern coast of the Mediterranean. North Africa was visible in the far distance. In Madrid all the hotels were booked with conventions and trade shows. Clint told me that he had a friend who had an apartment and who would gladly put us up for the night.
Pancho Kohner, whose father was my agent in Los Angeles, was most happy to see us, and he showed us to his spare bedroom, which had one small bed. "Do you want the left side or the right?" Clint asked.
"I don't know," I said. "I guess I'll take the left side." This made sense - politically I was always to the left. I wondered if Clint would snore, but soon I was asleep. Later in the shoot when Anne was visiting me with the children, I told her the story. She laughed and said, "Now you can brag that you're the only man to have slept with Clint Eastwood."
Clint and I were to leave Kohner's apartment at nine the following morning, but when we woke up, Clint told me that he hated to fly "in those rickety crates the Spaniards call plances." He said he would rent a car and driver and asked if I would ride down to Almeria with him.
"Sure, I'd be happy to," I told him.
On the long ride down to Almeria, Clint filled me in about Italian westerns, how there were no unions, how the hours went from sunrise to sunset, and shooting took place six days a week, how the food on location would come in little white boxes. It was usually pasta of half a chicken or a pork chop stuck between two pieces of bread, some fruit, and a bottle of red wine.
"Don't eat too much of you'll fall sleep by midafternoon," Clint told me. "And don't volunteer to do any dangerous scenes. Let the stuntmen do the tricks."
"Oh, I've made Westerns before," I told him. "I know how to take care of myself."
"No," Clint said, and gave me a hard stare. "You've never made a Western like this. Don't show off."

1 comment:

  1. I sent a link of this piece to Robert Woods for a comment comparing Eli's experience on a Spanish location to his own experience, and he replied:
    "It was pretty much like that on a Leone film...worse on some of the others. I did my own stunts just to stay awake after lunch.
    All The Best,