Lee Van Cleef is undoubtedly the ultimate bad guy in Hollywood. Throughout the years, whenever a movie needed a despicable villain, directors would say, “Why don’t you go out and get Lee Van Cleef?” With his piercing eyes, he earned the nickname “angel eyes.” Surprisingly, though, he is currently appearing as the good guy in the NBC series The Master. You can catch him on NBC Fridays at 9pm.

On a recent episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Lee Van Cleef made an appearance. Carson himself admitted that they might have crossed paths once before, but it was so long ago that he couldn’t recall the exact details. Regardless, Lee Van Cleef‘s career started on the stage in New York before he transitioned to the big screen.

Interestingly enough, his journey into acting began with a rather amusing entrance. After doing a couple of amateur shows in Clinton, New Jersey, he was taken to meet a director in New York. Little did he know that this meeting would lead him straight to the Alvin Theater stage. Nervous and clueless, he was handed a script and asked to read some lines. However, he fumbled through them, which prompted the director to ask him to remove his jacket. This was followed by requests to take off his shirt and pants. Lee Van Cleef, being a quick thinker, explained that he didn’t want to ruin the inside of his pants and proceeded to take them off, leaving him in his shorts. This peculiar audition ultimately resulted in him landing a role and starting his career.

His first notable movie role was in “High Noon” with John Forsyth and Hank Fonda. From there, he went on to play a range of Heavies in Motion Pictures, each with depth and complexity. Some characters even managed to garner sympathy despite their horrid actions. Lee Van Cleef‘s unique physical appearance also became part of his trademark. At one point, Stanley Kramer wanted him to change his nose for a role in “High Noon,” but Lee Van Cleef firmly stood his ground, recognizing that his nose was symbolic of his unique identity as an actor.

Throughout his career, Lee Van Cleef may have encountered some fans who couldn’t distinguish between the tough guy persona he portrayed in movies and his real-life demeanor. Back in the day, people would challenge him, hoping to test their own strength against his on-screen image. Lee Van Cleef handled these situations with a mix of charm and luck, often successfully talking his way out, but occasionally needing a little bit of assistance.

Nowadays, Lee Van Cleef is exploring a new frontier as a good guy in the ninja-themed TV series, “The Master.” Ninjas are known for their mysterious and secretive nature, often cloaked in black outfits that conceal their entire bodies except for their eyes. With a combination of ancient weapons and martial arts, Lee Van Cleef‘s character in “The Master” is captivating audiences with his enigmatic presence.

During his interview with Johnny Carson, Lee Van Cleef showcased a symbol that represents his character’s household in “The Master.” The symbol, though a little difficult to discern, is a butterfly. It serves as a unique identifier for his character’s household and is a representation of the mystical world of ninjas.

As Lee Van Cleef continues to embrace new roles and captivate audiences with his performances, there’s no doubt that his talents as both a villain and a hero will continue to leave a lasting impression on the entertainment industry. Stay tuned for more thrilling episodes of “The Master” and be sure to catch Lee Van Cleef in action on NBC Fridays at 9 pm.

Originally aired on February 9, 1984