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Clint Eastwood rejected a Dirty Harry sequel because it was “too grim”

The Dirty Harry movies are full of violence, but Clint Eastwood was given a script for a possible sequel that was too much even for the ruthless detective.

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry

From the early 70s to the late 80s, Clint Eastwood starred in five Dirty Harry movies – and they were known for their violence and cynicism, with Harry Callahan being a bitter and ruthless loner detective. However, there’s another movie that wound up starring Denzel Washington that was initially proposed as a Dirty Harry sequel that was “too grim” even for Eastwood.

In 1991, Denzel Washington starred in crime thriller movie Ricochet as a District Attorney who is the target of hitman’s vengeance. Writer Fred Dekker says that he initially wrote it for Clint Eastwood to star in as a Dirty Harry movie. But it turns out that the idea was too much for one of the best action movie series of all time.

“When Clint Eastwood deemed it ‘too grim’ (which is funny if you’ve seen a Dirty Harry movie), the producer Joel Silver took it in a different direction. I met Kurt Russell about starring in it, with me directing, but eventually it became the movie you know. I counted seven things of mine left in the finished product,” Dekker explained in 2013.

Ricochet features Denzel Washington being kidnapped, drugged and raped as part of an elaborate plot to destroy his life, orchestrated by John Lithgow’s hitman character. So it’s probably this aspect of the script that Eastwood struggled with. Ice-T plays Washington’s childhood best friend, who grows up to be a drug dealer in LA’s South Central – something else it’s hard to imagine in an Eastwood movie.

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Reportedly, Ricochet was originally even more violent, but it was heavily cut after performing poorly at test screenings. By the time of the final Dirty Harry movie in 1988, Eastwood felt he was too old to play the character in the thriller movies any longer – so this was more likely the main factor in him not wanting to do Ricochet in 1991.

Eastwood is now an incredible 93 years old and before the actors’ strike, he was a significant way into filming his new movie Juror #2, which he is directing. The legal thriller movie stars Nicholas Hoult as the titular juror, Kiefer Sutherland, Toni Collette, Zoey Deutch, and The Night Agent’s Gabriel Basso.

Check out our guide to the best Clint Eastwood movies and the best Denzel Washington movies.