In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Eastwood revealed MCQueen tried to convince him to take the lead role in the Francis Ford Coppola film, but the Dirty Harry star didn't fancy spending 16 weeks in the Philippines shooting the war movie.
He says, "Coppola called me up and asked me if I wanted to do the young guy, I think, later played by Martin Sheen... And I said, 'Gee, I don't know, I don't understand this show too much'.
"I did read Heart of Darkness (the Joseph Conrad novel which inspired the film) when I was young and so I kind of knew where it was going, but then I said, 'No, I don't think I can go off for that long a time'. He (Coppola) was going to go 16 weeks in the Philippines."
And then MCQueen stepped in to suggest he and Eastwood should do the film together.
The actor/director adds, "Steve McQueen called me and he says, 'Why don't you come on and play this role?' I said, 'I thought you were going to play that role', because I'd read somewhere that he was going to play (it). He said, 'No, no... I want to play the Kurtz role'.
"I said, 'Well, why do you want to play that?' He says, 'Well, I get the same money but I only have to work two weeks'. I said, 'Well, you've figured it out... (but) I don't know about going to the Philippines and there's a lot of unknown factors maybe over there'. I'd just gotten through building a house and everything and I thought, 'No, I don't want to go away that long'."