In an early 1970s interview with Stuart M. Kaminsky, Clint Eastwood was asked how he arrived at Jessica Walter as the dangerous stalker. “Over the studio’s dead body,” he quipped. Coincidentally, three of the top contenders for the part had appeared in Sidney Lumet’s 1966 drama “The Group.” When Eastwood watched the movie, one particularly violent scene convinced him Walter was the only choice.
As he told Kaminsky:
“[Walter] plays a frigid gal who talks about sex but is really turned off — and she’s with this German guy who’s trying to put the make on her and she starts this turn-off, and he just hauls off and slaps the s*** out of her. And the look on her face, the transition she makes, the story on her face made me want to get her. I talked to the studio and they named a couple of people who were more well-known, people they could get deals on because business was slow, and I said: I don’t want deals, I just want someone who is right for the part.”
And as anyone who has seen “Play Misty For Me” can attest — Jessica Walter was absolutely the best person for the role.