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John Wayne

10 Actors Who Were Wildly Misplaced in Iconic Roles

1. John Wayne as Genghis Khan, “The Conqueror” (1956)


Now, if you’re thinking, “Wait, that can’t be right,” rest assured, your eyes are not deceiving you. Hollywood, in an extravagant display of casting insensitivity, chose John Wayne, Duke of the Western film, to play Mongol warrior Genghis Khan. With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of a floundering 11%, this flick, famous for being filmed downwind of a nuclear testing site (yes, you read that right), is a cocktail of wrong on so many levels. Audience reactions were predictably scathing. Wayne, as Khan, parades around with his cowboy drawl, attempting to embody an ancient Mongolian warrior. The film grossed $9 million at the box office, but its reputation remains a cinematic facepalm.
2. Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992)

Keanu Reeves is many things. He’s Neo, he’s John Wick, he’s Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan, but a British Victorian-era solicitor he is not. His portrayal of Jonathan Harker in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is a cornucopia of misplaced casting. Despite the film’s success, garnering three Academy Awards and making a killing at the box office with over $215 million worldwide, Reeves’s British accent was as believable as a unicorn sighting. Reeves himself admitted in later interviews that he was pretty much out of his depth, having been cast amidst heavyweights like Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins.
3. Cameron Diaz as Jenny Everdeane, “Gangs of New York” (2002)

As much as we love Cameron Diaz for her rom-com and comedic prowess, her foray into the world of historical drama in Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” was…questionable. Diaz played pickpocket Jenny Everdeane amidst a cast of Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Despite the film’s 10 Oscar nominations and $193 million box office haul, Diaz’s performance seemed more suited for a light-hearted comedy than the gritty streets of 1862 New York. It was akin to dropping a Taylor Swift song in the middle of a Metallica concert – just a bit out of place.
4. Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones, “The World is Not Enough” (1999)

It’s a well-established fact that James Bond films require a certain suspension of disbelief. But when Denise Richards, renowned for her roles in films like “Wild Things” and “Starship Troopers,” was cast as a nuclear physicist in the 1999 installment “The World Is Not Enough,” disbelief was not just suspended, it was launched into orbit. Despite its financial success, grossing $361 million globally, Richards’ performance earned her a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress. The plot’s attempt to convince us that Richards could decipher the intricacies of a nuclear bomb wasn’t convincing. Like, at all.
5. Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone, “The Godfather Part III” (1990)

When Winona Ryder had to drop out of “The Godfather Part III”, Francis Ford Coppola made the dubious decision to cast his daughter, Sofia, in the pivotal role of Michael Corleone’s daughter. Sofia, now a highly respected director, was panned by critics and audiences alike for her wooden performance in a film that was otherwise nominated for seven Academy Awards and netted $136 million at the box office.
6. Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, “Star Wars: Episodes II & III” (2002, 2005)

The “Star Wars” prequels are perhaps best known for their infamous dialogue, questionable directing, and one Hayden Christensen. Cast as Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, Christensen’s performance was as lackluster as a summer rain in Tatooine. Despite this, the films racked up $649 million and $848 million respectively at the box office, proving the force was still strong with Star Wars fans. George Lucas was even nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director, while Christensen bagged the award for Worst Supporting Actor.
7. Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Mickey Rooney, a veteran of vaudeville, and Hollywood, was cast as Mr. Yunioshi, a Japanese landlord in the classic film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Even for the time, Rooney’s portrayal was egregiously stereotypical, and today is widely considered a glaring blight on an otherwise well-loved film. The film itself was a critical and commercial success, securing two Academy Awards and grossing $14 million, but Rooney’s Yunioshi remains a regrettable example of Hollywood’s historic lack of cultural sensitivity.
8. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)

When we think of Lex Luthor, we think of a bald, charismatic, sinister genius. What we got with Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was a twitchy, eccentric tech bro. The movie was divisive among critics and fans, evidenced by a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 29%. Still, it managed to pull in a hefty $873 million at the box office. Eisenberg’s odd take on the iconic villain baffled audiences and critics alike, making us wonder if Mark Zuckerberg had somehow stumbled into the DC universe.
9. Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates, “Psycho” (1998)

Vince Vaughn, known for his comedic chops, had the unenviable task of stepping into the shoes of Anthony Perkins’ iconic Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Sadly, his performance was less ‘psycho’ and more ‘awkward guy at a party.’ Despite the all-star cast, the film was a box office disappointment, grossing just $37 million against a $60 million budget, and earned a meager 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. Vaughn’s casting seemed as out of place as a clown at a funeral.
10. Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991)

In theory, Kevin Costner playing the legendary outlaw who robs from the rich to give to the poor sounds like a dream come true. The reality, however, was a performance that swung wildly between “Midwestern farm boy” and “British outlaw.” Despite his erratic accent (or lack thereof), the film was a box office success, raking in over $390 million and securing an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Costner’s Hood wasn’t so much a prince of thieves as he was a prince of inconsistent dialect coaching.

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John Wayne

John Wayne heartbreak after pleading for one last film before death: ‘Hope to hell I do’

The crowning moment in his acting life came in 1970, when he earned his only Academy Award for Best Actor, as a result of his role in True Grit.

But one project that sadly never made it to life was Beau John, a film Wayne hoped would be his last.
Author Scott Eyman, who wrote ‘John Wayne: The Life and Legend’, discussed what Wayne wanted the project to be like, as well as the confession he made before he sadly passed away.
Eyman noted that Wayne’s wish was made at the end of 1978, just under a year before the western icon died in June.

Wayne reportedly felt directionless without any film work as he’d spent the last years in recovery with health issues as opposed to being behind the camera.
That year, Wayne received the Utah Film Festival’s John Ford Medallion, though he was unable to travel due to his health.
Instead, friend and director Peter Bogdanovich went to accept the award on his behalf, and when the pair were reunited Wayne asked if he’d consider the film he proposed.
Bogdanovich said: “It’s kind of a half-western thing, it’s not cowboys and Indians, you know, it’s — oh, the humour and the wonderful relationship between this grandfather and the son and the son-in-law and the grandson.
JUST IN: John Wayne was buried at unmarked grave with a beautiful message

“Wayne said, ‘I hope to hell I live to do it. Just a wonderful story’.”
His friend reassured Wayne he’d do the project, were he alive long enough to commit to it, and in his later life it became the Oscar winner’s main focus in life.
As he grew even more ill, Wayne then proposed the project to director Ron Howard, though he didn’t want anyone but the dying star to be in it.
According to the book, Wayne told Howard: “I found a book. I think it’s a movie. It’s you and me or it’s nobody.”

John Wayne died in 1979

John Wayne died in 1979 (Image: GETTY)

But sadly for Wayne, he died before anything could be done to start the movie.
Howard added: “It never got past the verbal stage.
“And at that point, he was showing signs of not being well. I was a little doubtful.”
Wayne passed away in 1979 as a result of stomach cancer, and was buried in the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach.
His legacy was secured when the American Film Institute chose him as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema.

He was among a select group of stars who managed to negotiate their way from the silent film era of the Twenties, into the talkies that followed.
He had seven children in total, and was married three times.

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John Wayne

John Wayne battled crippling injuries and heartbreaking loss on Rio Lobo set

The sight of The Duke thundering across The West on horseback remains one of cinema’s most indelible images.
Meanwhile, “Get off your horse and drink your milk” has frequently been attributed as one of John Wayne’s most famous ‘quotes.’

Despite some claims that it came from an advert he shot, it is actually almost certainly an urban myth, most likely started by comedians doing drawling impressions of the Hollywood Westerns legend.
Sadly, though, by the time the star came to film 1970’s Rio Lobo (a blatant remake of Rio Bravo) towards the end of his career, he was in so much pain struggled to get on and off his horse.
In fact, the entire film shoot was surrounded by personal tragedies for the actor.
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John Wayne on horseback in Rio Lobo

John Wayne on horseback in Rio Lobo (Image: GETTY)

John Wayne starred in Rio Lobo
John Wayne was in agony in Rio Lobo (Image: GETTY )

It was director Howard Hawks’ final film and the third film he made with John Wayne about a beleaguered sheriff standing against outlaws.
In a 1971 interview Hawks said of Rio Lobo: “The last picture we made, I called him up and said, ‘Duke, I’ve got a story.’ He said, ‘I can’t make it for a year, I’m all tied up.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s all right, it’ll take me a year to get it finished.’
“He said, ‘Good, I’ll be all ready.’ And he came down on location and he said, ‘What’s this about?’ And I told him the story. He never even read it, he didn’t know anything about it.”

Famously, when Wayne realised it was a remake of Rio Bravo and El Dorado, he quipped: “Yes, he said, ‘Do I get to play the drunk this time?”

Hawks was less jocular after the film bombed and blamed it on 63-year-old Wayne being too old and out of shape for the role.
Critics and audiences agreed and the film took just over $4million against a production budget of $6million plus all the extra promotional costs which are often the same again.
Wayne’s physical difficulties were not due to his age, however. He had piled on weight for 1969’s True Grit and then while filming The Undefeated the same year, The Duke fell from his horse and fractured three ribs, leaving him unable to work for two weeks.
Later in the shoot, he tore a ligament in his shoulder. With no movement in one arm, he had to be filmed only from the other side.

John Wayne with a rifle in Rio Lobo
John Wayne with a rifle in Rio Lobo (Image: GETTY)

Wayne came into Rio Lobo in considerable pain, out of shape from True Grit and still suffering from a torn shoulder.
Most of his fight scenes had to be filmed with stand-ins or carefully from restricted angles. Some fights even happened off-camera. And he struggled greatly getting on and off his horse.
He also suffered two devastatimg personal blow when his mother died during filming and then his younger brother Robert E. Morrison lost his battle with lung cancer the month after filming ended.
But there was one shining moment of happiness also.

John Wayne in True Grit
John Wayne in True Grit (Image: GETTY)

Always a dedicated workhorse on set, no matter the physical injuries or personal pains, Wayne took a rare break from filming.
He had a very good reason, since it was to attend the 1970 Academy Awards. After exactly 40 years on screen, The Duke finally won the Best Actor Oscar for True Grit.
Touchingly, when he returned to the Rio Lobo set, he was greeted by the cast and crew all wearing eye patches like True Grit’s Rooster Cogburn.

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John Wayne

Ann-Margret recalls ‘gentle’ and ‘welcoming’ John Wayne who did her a big favour

Legendary actress Ann-Margret turns 80-years-old today on April 28, 2021. The singer, dancer and performer made quite the name for herself in Hollywood in a number of films during the early 1960s, including Bye Bye Birdie and State Fair. She is perhaps best known for her epic performance in 1964 hit Viva Las Vegas alongside Elvis Presley, with whom she shared a passionate love affair. Shortly after working with the King, she joined wild west star John Wayne in his 1973 movie The Train Robbers.

Ann-Margret played the lead in the movie – one of her first lead roles – Mrs Lowe.

The story followed her character after her husband had been killed, leaving her half-million dollars.
Mr Lowe had acquired this money from robbing banks in the wild west, however, she was keen to return it to the government to clear her name. John’s character, Lane, had different ideas. He wanted her to help find the money and claim a reward for it.
Ann-Margret recently gave an interview about her time on the silver screen, where she touched upon working with the legendary John.

Ann-Margret continued: “He was so great with my parents. So absolutely welcoming and gentle with them. And anybody who was great to my parents was on a throne in my eyes.
“I was friends with him forever. He was never [pretentious]. He had so many friends and every single person loved him.”
Ann-Margret also previously praised John for doing her an enormous favour in her time of need.
During the filming of The Train Robbers, Ann-Margret was up for an Oscar alongside her co-star Ben Johnson.
However, considering Ann-Margret was filming in Mexico she was struggling to find a way to attend the ceremony.
Without a second thought, John gave her and Ben his own private plane to allow them both to attend the ceremony.
Ann-Margret said later: “The next day, we were back on the set, and Ben had won and I hadn’t.
“I don’t know what Mr Wayne said to Ben, but he got me in a corner, and he just said some wonderful things to me.”
Ann-Margret also spoke candidly about her relationship with Elvis.
The pair enjoyed a relationship together for just over a year while filming Viva Las Vegas.

Speaking in the same interview, Ann-Margret said: “Just thinking about Viva Las Vegas, or anytime someone mentions it, I smile.
“It was one of the happiest times of my life. George Sidney, who directed Bye Bye Birdie also directed Viva Las Vegas. And believe it or not, I had never seen [Elvis] perform.”

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