Kurt Russell based Escape From New York character on Clint Eastwood

In the behind-the-scenes retrospective documentary Return to New York, Kurt Russell said that he based Snake Plissken on Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name.

Kurt Russell in Escape from New York

Kurt Russell acted mainly on television from 1962 to 1980, while he was a kid, then teenager, then in his 20s. His big Hollywood break came in 1981 when he had turned 30 – in John Carpenter‘s dystopian action movie Escape From New York. Snake Plissken has since become an iconic character – with his immediately recognisable shaggy hair, leather jacket and eye patch.

In the documentary Return to New York (via ScreenRant), Russell revealed that he was influenced by the casting of Spaghetti Western star Lee Van Cleef in Escape from New York. This gave him the inspiration to base his performance of Snake on Clint Eastwood, and particularly his ‘Man with No Name’ character in the Fistful of Dollars trilogy.

The low, raspy voice that Russell used for Snake was a direct reference to Eastwood’s anti-hero cowboy persona. Russell would of course go onto reprise the role in 1996’s Escape From LA, after becoming a big movie star thanks to The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Overboard, Tango & Cash, Backdraft, Tombstone, and Stargate.

Kurt Russell and his partner of nearly 40 years Goldie Hawn are head of their own mini Hollywood dynasty now, with Hawn’s daughter Kate Hudson, and their son Wyatt Russell – who are both actors. Since leaving television in 1980, Russell has never returned – although he will have a role in the upcoming Godzilla and the Titans Apple TV show, alongside Wyatt.

Russell is one of a few older Hollywood stars who are turning to television in their 70s and 80s. Harrison Ford is currently starring in his first TV series – Yellowstone spin-off 1923, and Robert De Niro is going to star in Netflix series Zero Day.

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