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Steve Reeves, often considered one of the original action heroes of the silver screen, paved the way for stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the realm of muscular leading men. Reeves’ career reached impressive heights, making him the highest-paid actor in Europe during the peak of his fame. However, there are intriguing twists in his career trajectory that could have catapulted him even further into the annals of Hollywood history.
One notable incident that showcased Reeves’ potential for even greater stardom was his rejection of the iconic role of James Bond in “Dr. No.” This decision was influenced by the relatively low salary offered by the film’s producers. Imagine the cinematic landscape had Steve Reeves donned the tuxedo of the suave British spy.
Another interesting choice was his rejection of the role that eventually went to Clint Eastwood in “Fistful of Dollars.” Reeves, at the time, held the belief that Italians were incapable of creating quality western films. Ironically, he later contradicted this belief by accepting a starring role in the Italian western “A Long Ride From Hell” in 1968. This choice demonstrated not only a shift in his perceptions but also a willingness to explore different genres and artistic territories. Reeves’ collaboration with Italian cinema was not limited to this western; he had previously experienced great success in Italian films, notably in the role of Hercules.
Intriguingly, Reeves’s association with “A Long Ride From Hell” runs even deeper, as he co-wrote the script. The film was initially titled “I Live For Your Death!” and was adapted from the novel “Judas Gun” by Gordon D. Shirreffs. This creative endeavor showcased Reeves’ multifaceted talents, extending beyond his acting prowess.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a successor to Reeves in the realm of muscle-bound action stars, also had his share of interesting cinematic choices. He, too, portrayed the mythological Hercules, albeit in a comedic context in the film “Hercules in New York” (1970). Schwarzenegger’s foray into the western genre resulted in the 1979 film “The Villain,” where he starred alongside Kirk Douglas and Anne Margret. This film added a lighthearted and comedic twist to the classic western formula.
Furthermore, both Reeves and Schwarzenegger were contenders for the role of Doc Savage in different productions and at different times. In the end, neither of them had the opportunity to bring “The Man of Bronze” to life on the big screen. These shared experiences and parallel career paths highlight the interconnectedness of Hollywood’s iconic action stars. Both actors left indelible marks on the film industry and shaped the perception of muscular heroes, showcasing their impressive physiques and dynamic talents on screen.