After the success of his star making Hercules movie, Steve Reeves turned down the role that finally went to Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars.
The reason Reeves turned down the role is, in his own words: "I didn't believe that Italians can make good Westerns. But I was wrong."
Steve also claimed to have turned down the role of James Bond in Dr. No. Reeves mentioned in an interview that he was offered only $100,000 to play 007, whereas he was earning $250,000 per film in Italy, and as such was tied with Sophia Loren as the highest paid actor in Europe at the time. Thus he turned down the role of James Bond to continue making a larger salary in Italy.
Perhaps Reeves was wise to keep collecting his higher salary, as making action movies is always risky and Reeves' unique body made him hard to double. Indeed, his leading man career lasted a mere 10 years because when filming The Last Days of Pompeii, Reeves dislocated his shoulder when the chariot he was driving hit a tree.
In the same movie, he had to swim underwater beneath buring oil and his shoulder was re-injured. His ability to do stunts lessened on each movie, ultimately leading to his decision to retire.
However, in 1967, Reeves finally did make an Italian Western that he not only starred in, but produced: A Long Ride from Hell.
He retired very well off and raised Morgon horses on his ranch in Southern California. So perhaps in this case, it was prudent for him to collect higher salaries in movies while he could.
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