I always wanted to spend my twilight years being regarded as a grizzled embittered curmudgeonly old bastard, but instead it’s all goddam lifetime achievement awards and the French adding me to their Legion of Honour. Have none of these assholes seen ‘Paint Your Wagon’ or ‘Space Cowboys’? I used to co-star with an orangutan for Christ’s sake!
Originally it was written with just pages of dialogue … all of it explaining the background of the character. But I wanted to play it with an economy of dialogue and to build a whole feeling through attitude and movements. So I said to Sergio, “Let’s keep the mystery of the character and just allude to what happened in the past.” Sergio argued with me, though he did agree in a way, but it was just much harder for the Italian mentality to accept. They’re just used to so much more exposition and I was throwing that out. Finally he accepted it, but then the producers thought something was really awry. They said, “Christ, this guy isn’t doing anything. He isn’t saying anything. He doesn’t even have a name! And that cigar is just sitting there burning.” They just didn’t know what the hell was going on. But when they saw it all assembled, they realized what it was, and then how it went over on the public. The “No Name” guy soon became a very imitated character.