Clint Eastwood's disastrous screen test nearly ended his career before it started

The actor described himself as a ''clod''

CBS Television Distribution

Screen tests used to be a crucial part of any actor's career. Before we all had cameras in our pockets, a screen test was a critical chance to put your stuff on film. Producers look for a proven pedigree, a résumé and experience. Short of that, though, only a screen test had the chance to grab some much-sought-after Hollywood attention. A screen test was the calling card for anyone seeking to get a foot in the door.

In 1954, Clint Eastwood was about a decade away from his breakout role in A Fistful of Dollars. While that movie and its sequels would make him an international superstar, Eastwood had a few more stops before the top of the world. One of those was as a contracted Universal Studios actor. But, to get there, Eastwood first had to prove himself to a casting director.

This meant that he'd need to shoot his first screen test.

Luckily, Eastwood had established some key contacts while at Los Angeles City College. While Eastwood enrolled to study business administration, he found himself spending most of his time in the school's drama department. That's where he met cinematographer Irving Glassberg and director Arthur Lubin. These two new friends helped guide the would-be actor through filming his first screen test.

The results, unfortunately, did not live up to Eastwood's standards. In Bernard Bénoliel's 2010 biography Clint Eastwood, the actor himself speaks about the horrifying outcome of this first on-camera mishap.

"I thought I was an absolute clod," said Eastwood. 

Lubin and Glassberg, though, apparently held up their ends of the bargain, as the screen test was shot convincingly enough.

"It looked pretty good," Eastwood recalled. "It was photographed well, but I thought, 'If that's acting, I'm in trouble.'"

While it didn't live up to his expectations, the screen test was enough to get Eastwood a contract with Universal Studios where he worked for the next period of his career.

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dazeofwine 1 month ago
Treasure Clint while he is still here. The guy is LEGEND. Pretty much the only guy I admire from the "establishment". Great man.
seltaeb 1 month ago
He appears briefly for about 5 seconds in an uncredited role with Steve McQueen in the 4th Season episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents titled "Human Interest Story". McQueen is sitting at his desk on the phone, and turns around and places some kind of typed up news story on Eastwood's desk. It's at the beginning of the episode, so you'll have to look quick or you'll miss it. If you have it on DVD then of course you can pause it and see Ol' Clint.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
The screen test could not have been that bad, right?
JHP 1 month ago
all his movies in the 70's & 80's I love like oxygen

Outlaw Josey Wales
Every which way but loose
Every which way you can
High Plains Drifter
Pale Rider
Play misty for me..a few more
BrittReid JHP 1 month ago
Dirty Harry
Magnum Force
JHP BrittReid 1 month ago
good ones also
GOOSEYGOOSE9 1 month ago
Clint Eastwood came back to universal for 50th anniversary in 1962. He returned to universal for coogan’s bluff.
That movie was several years later after The Good, The Bad & The Ugly! He did several movies for Universal before signing with Warner Brothers! Fun Fact:At one of his auditions, he met a young Burt Reynolds! They became friends but didn't work together until City Heat in 1984!
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