It’s hard to argue with someone like Clint Eastwood after the impeccable career he’s had, so when he says a scene is getting cut, that’s pretty much final. Now though, the writer of the ‘90s movie Unforgiven has shared an alternate ending to the Western that Eastwood decided not to use.
Eastwood is renowned for his efficiency in filmmaking, preferring to carry out minimal takes of a scene before moving on in order to keep a production running smoothly (and on budget). Unforgiven was a triumph for Eastwood, winning him the Oscar for both Best Picture and Best Director, but the ending of the movie could have been very different.
Unforgiven turns 30 years old on August 7, 2022, a milestone that has seen David Peoples, the screenwriter of the drama movie, recall some memories of putting the story together. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Peoples described a long lost ending to the story that he wrote back in 1984, which was ultimately cut by the movie’s star and director.
“I miss it to this day,” Peoples revealed. “But Clint got the movie right,” he added graciously. Eastwood had shot the scene as written, and even showed it to Peoples, but he had bad news for the writer.
“He did the scene beautifully. [But] he said he thought it was a beat too many, and he wasn’t going to use it,” Peoples explained. “He had this sense that the movie had already ended, and sticking on another scene wasn’t going to help. As the sensitive writer, I wish somehow it could have made it in, but he got the rhythm right. He has a brilliant sense of drama.”
Eastwood is responsible for some of the best movies of all time, both in front of and behind the camera, so it makes sense that he got this call right. Though he’s renowned for action movies and war movies, Eastwood is very good at getting the more nuanced, emotional moments to work in a film.
If you’re curious, the alternate ending involves William Munny (Eastwood) returning home after getting his hands dirty, but in this version, he lies to his children and reassures them he “didn’t kill nobody.” Is he protecting them from the truth? Or is he ashamed of his actions?
For more of Peoples’ work like Blade Runner and 12 Monkeys, you might be interested in our list of the best science fiction movies.