“That’s the way we have to go”: Clint Eastwood Didn’t Relent to WB Trying to Persuade Him Not Making $216M Movie That Was Earlier Eyed by Sandra Bullock

Clint Eastwood knew what he wanted Million Dollar Baby to be and he stuck to it.

With the number of Oscar winners Clint Eastwood has been a part of during his career, his advice on cinema should be given a seriousness similar to the word of God itself. Be it for his acting or his direction, if there is one person in Hollywood who knows how to make a movie, it’s him. The perfect example of his genius and the lengths he is willing to go to make a film is Million Dollar Baby.

There were a lot of conflicts the film had to go through behind the scenes. Most famously, the role of Maggie was almost played by Sandra Bullock until she had to leave due to scheduling conflicts. Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only time that the movie almost had a different fate, as the studio was initially hesitant to even make the project.

During an interview, Alan Horn, the COO of Warner Bros. at the time of the film’s production, revealed that the studio hesitated to make the film for two reasons.

Clint Eastwood’s Film Was Questioned

Alan Horn once gave an interview with The Hollywood Reporter where he talked about the truth behind the making of Million Dollar Baby. After writing the finished script of the film, Clint Eastwood approached Warner Bros. to get his film brought to life. This was very early in his vision, as the actor and director did not even have an actress in mind who could play the character.

However, he would soon learn that the studio would have an issue with something entirely different. Horn revealed that soon after he read the script, he got skeptical about one thing; the film’s audience.

Clint came to me in his low-key way. He had not cast anybody. I read it and I thought, “Well, I just don’t see it.” I thought, “I don’t know if women want to see a woman fight.”

The movie follows the story of a boxer, who happens to be a woman. This one detail was hyper-fixated, and he questioned Eastwood about which woman would want to watch a movie like this. After hearing this, Eastwood was quick to withdraw his offer, not wanting the studio “doing anything that it’s not comfortable with.”

A Million Dollars Too Dark

Clint Eastwood took his script to several other studios, but there were no takers. Accepting his defeat, he came back to Warner Bros. and asked them to look at the script from a fresh perspective. Unfortunately, this new lens came with an entirely new criticism.

Million Dollar Baby famously has a very dark and tragic ending. The protagonist dies in the most brutal of ways, battered, beaten, and tongue-less. Alan Horn seemed to be concerned about such a climax for the movie.

“I’m just not saying no.” The movie killed me. I said, “Does she have to die in the end?” Clint said, “I’m afraid so.” I said, “Does she have to bite her tongue off?” He said, “That’s the way we have to go.” I said, “Does she have to lose the fight?” But it shows that William Goldman was right: No one knows anything.

He asked if the movie had to be this depressing at its end. While many would have bent and changed their story in some way or another, Eastwood knew that the ending was exactly what the movie needed and gave justice to all of the characters and their stories. Interestingly enough, the film was greenlit and became the Oscar-winner that it is today.

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