It is a good thing Steve Reeves decided to play Hercules because he seemed to have a history of turning down good roles. He turned down the lead in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah because the role would require him to drop 15 pounds that he needed for bodybuilding. Demille was a major producer and director(The Ten Commandments) from 1914 to the late 1950s. He turned down the role of James Bond in Dr. No, 1962, because he felt the pay was too low. A year later he turned down the role of Joe in Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars. Clint Eastwood is credited as Joe in Fistful of Dollars and not “the man with no name”.
The Italians had a good run with epic historical fantasy movies like Hercules(1958) and Duel of the Titans(1961) but they transitioned to westerns in the 1960s. They had some other wild genres in the 60s, 70s and early 80s like “Mondo” documentaries starting with Mondo Cane(1962), a series of cannibal movies like Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust ,1980, brutal crime movies or Poliziotteschi such as Beast with a Gun (La belva con mitra, 1977), as well as suspenseful slasher movies or Giallos such as Torso(1973) and Tenebrae(1982).
After filming Hercules Reeves dislocated his shoulder in The Last Days of Pompeii(1959) when his chariot slammed into a tree. The injury would be aggravated in subsequent movie’s stunt work which ultimately led to his retirement from acting. Reeves last movie was a 1968 western called A Long Ride From Hell.