Clint Eastwood’s “Man without a Name” had a great influence on the bounty hunter from “Star Wars” Boba Fett. Clint Eastwood first made a name for himself in the classic series “Rawhide” as Rowdy Yates, but it was in a low-budget Italian western that he became a movie star. “A Handful of Dollars” in 1964 was a riff on Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” — to the point that Toho sued the creators of “A Handful of Dollars” — a film in which Eastwood played a Man without a name who found himself in the epicenter of a feud between two gangs and plays both ways.
“For a Handful of Dollars,” in which other actors almost starred, is considered to be the film that initiated the “spaghetti Western” subgenre, which often had a darker and more cynical view of the West than most American productions. Eastwood’s iconic appearance and acting also cemented his stage persona in stone, and it seemed that the less the character did, the more convincing he became. Eastwood has teamed up again with director Sergio Leone for two sequels: “A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Evil,” the latter being considered a masterpiece of the genre. Although this was Eastwood’s last performance as the Man with No Name, his characters in “The High Plains Tramp” or “The Pale Horseman” seem to be offshoots of the same role.
When creating Star Wars, George Lucas took a lot from classic myths and westerns; Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress also had a noticeable influence on Star Wars. Boba Fett’s character started out as an early version of Darth Vader, when Lucas imagined a version of the Dark Lord as a bounty hunter. Fett was created as a new villain in Empire Strikes Back and made his debut in the infamous Star Wars holiday special. Despite the lack of screen time or dialogue in either Empire or Return of the Jedi, Boba Fett, played by Jeremy Bullock, has become a real fan favorite. When coming up with the character, Lucas stated in the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back issue dedicated to the 40th anniversary that “the character of Boba Fett is actually an early version of Darth Vader. He also looks very much like the man with no name from Sergio Leone’s Westerns.”
This concept is very clearly visible in Empire Strikes Back, from Boba Fett’s body language to his rare dialogues. Clint Eastwood’s “Man Without a Name” influence on Boba Fett, currently played by Temuera Morrison, almost went even further, with early costume tests depicting a bounty hunter with something like a poncho on his armor. Boba Fett’s performer Bulloch often referred to Eastwood’s “Man Without a Name”, who also influenced the character, feeling that the less Fett did, the more convincing he became.
This mysterious approach to Boba Fett, whose name is not even mentioned on screen in “Empire Strikes Back,” undoubtedly helped attract viewers to him. After decades of hoping to see the character of Boba Fett again, he finally returned for the 2nd season of the Star Wars series Mandalorian and got his own spin-off with the “Boba Fett Book”, which finally explained how he escaped from the terrible sarlacc pit. The show also has a distinctly Western vibe that goes back to the influence of westerns and Clint Eastwood’s “Man Without a Name” on Boba Fett.