Clark Gable was reluctant to play the role of Rhett for two reasons: the expectations of the novel's thousands of readers and the fact that the film would be a costume epic.
His last costume picture, Parnell had been a flop. But Gable, as Hollywood's biggest star, was the preferred lead. Gable had to demonstrate a charismatic demeanor and effortless confidence to play the part of Rhett Butler.
Due to the complexity of Selznick's contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Selznick went to great lengths (1) to ensure that costuming enhanced Gable's performance.
NEXT: Ashley Wilkes