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John Wayne

John Wayne: These Famous Actors Almost Starred in ‘The Shootist’ Instead of ‘The Duke’

Just imagine John Wayne not appearing in “The Shootist” at all. Would you believe four other actors were up first for the role?

What’s more impressive is when you see who was offered and passed on the role, it might leave you scratching your head. So yes, Wayne was not the No. 1 choice to play in “The Shootist,” his final film.

Paul Newman, Charles Bronson, Gene Hackman, and Clint Eastwood all received offers to play the lead role. All four of them said no. Why did they turn down this role before it fell to John Wayne? Well, it’s not spelled out clearly. But look at these actors and what roles they’re known for in their careers.

‘The Shootist’ List of Possible Lead Actors Is Quite Impressive

Newman played “Fast Eddie” Felson in “The Hustler” while also co-starring with Robert Redford in “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.” Bronson became the No. 1 box-office star in the early 1970s through “Death Wish” and its sequels. Hackman played “Popeye” Doyle in “The French Connection.” Eastwood played “Rowdy” Yates on TV’s “Rawhide” and Harry Callahan in the “Dirty Harry” movies.

But they all passed on this role of an aging gunslinger. It’s pretty amazing once you stop and think about any one of these actors playing that role instead of John Wayne. That doesn’t seem to fit the bill.

In case you’ve never seen “The Shootist,” then here’s a short description. Wayne plays a gunfighter who is dying and wants to go out with some dignity. Lauren Bacall and Ron Howard also are part of the cast. James Stewart makes a cameo role, too, at the insistence of Wayne himself.

The movie was released in 1976. There’s been a lot of mythology around “The Shootist” that Wayne did have cancer at the time and was dying. The reality is that Wayne, who years earlier went through surgery and was cancer-free, didn’t have a recurrence of it. Wayne did die of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, at 72 years old.

Wayne Nearly Lost His Home When Trying to Get This Movie Filmed

Making a movie about the Alamo was a passion project for John Wayne. Well, John Wayne really wanted to get the movie done.

In order to do it, though, he almost lost his house, yacht, and cars to finance the film. Wayne put nearly everything he owned on the line to get it financed. He even produced, directed, and starred in the film to drum up interest.

John Wayne had been wanting to make a movie about the Alamo for years. He hired a screenwriter in 1945 but was never able to get full funding for the project. He fought with Republic Pictures over funding, but they wouldn’t budge. They were known for B-movies with much smaller budgets than Wayne had wanted. He wanted $3 million to capture the epic nature of the battle, but Republic said no.

The film was made and went on to be a big hit, raking in $20 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. It received mixed reviews, but still netted seven Oscar nominations.

John Wayne

John Wayne Was ‘Miserable’ Because of ‘Venomous Remarks’ on ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

The Western genre went through a series of changes over the years. However, John Wayne will always remain one of the most iconic depictions of the Western film genre with performances in big titles, such as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Unfortunately, he didn’t have such an easy time on the set. Wayne had a “miserable” time filming because of John Ford‘s “venomous remarks.”

John Wayne played Tom Doniphon in ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' John Wayne as Tom Doniphon and James Stewart as Ransom Stoddard shouting at assembly

L-R: John Wayne as Tom Doniphon and James Stewart as Ransom Stoddard | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance follows Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) as he returns to a small town for a funeral. The press questions his arrival, but they’re about to hear the story of his connection to a local man named Tom Doniphon (Wayne). The story brings audiences back in town when Tom saved Stoddard from Liberty Valance’s (Lee Marvin) crew of outlaws. However, Stoddard and Tom are the only two willing to stand up to him and his crew.

Wayne’s performance in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is iconic. He once again delivers his Western charm along with his repeated use of the line “pilgrim.” As a result, popular culture continues to refer back to the legendary actor’s performance.

John Wayne was ‘miserable’ because of John Ford’s ‘venomous remarks’ on the set

Wayne worked with Ford on many films, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. However, the filmmaker often targeted Wayne with “venomous remarks,” verbally attacking him. Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth detailed some of the comments that Ford made toward the actor, which really made him angry.

“But the most damage Ford did was to the friendship me and Duke Wayne might have had,” co-star Woody Strode said “He kept needling Duke about his failure to make it as a football player, and because I had been a professional player, Ford kept saying to Duke, ‘Look at Woody. He’s a real football player.’”

However, the comments didn’t stop there. Ford brought up Wayne not serving in the military while on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. As a result, he praised Stewart’s service. This is a particular weak spot for the actor, who deeply regretted not serving in the military when he had the chance.

Strode continued: “It’s like he’d needle him about whatever reasons he had for not enlisting in the war by asking Jimmy, ‘How many times did you risk your life over Germany, Jimmy?’ And Jimmy would kind of go, ‘Oh, shucks’ or whatever, and Ford would say to Duke, ‘How rich did you get while Jimmy was risking his life?’ … What a miserable film to make.”

‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ goes down as one of the best Westerns of all time

Ford never came forward with a specific reason for verbally attacking Wayne on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Perhaps it was to get a better performance out of the actor. However, it clearly left an impact on the cast and crew.

Fortunately, that didn’t negatively impact the finished product. Wayne fans often assert that The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of the best Western films of all time. It continues to impact filmmaking to this day. The film only earned an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, but it remains a classic that many viewers rewatch.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Was ‘Ready For a Fight’ With His ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ Co-Star

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of John Wayne‘s most iconic roles. However, he didn’t have the most enjoyable time behind-the-scenes. Wayne’s frequent collaborator, John Ford, gave him a difficult time. As a result, he was “ready for a fight” with co-star Woody Strode, who once explained the severity of the situation.

John Wayne plays it tough as Tom Doniphon in ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance finds Wayne playing a local man named Tom Doniphon in a small Western town. Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) comes into town for his funeral, which confuses the press. However, the distinguished man tells the story of how Tom helped protect him against a crew of outlaws led by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).

Moviegoers embraced Wayne’s signature dialogue delivery. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance includes one of Wayne’s most iconic words: “pilgrim.” He repeatedly calls Stewart’s Stoddard this, which was an insult within the time period. Nevertheless, Tom maintains Western masculinity as shown in both his narrative and the way the actor plays the part. The character is typically accompanied by his handyman, Pompey (Strode)

John Wayne was ‘ready for a fight’ with co-star Woody Strode

Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth chronicles the iconic actor’s career, including his work on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Ford repeatedly harrassed Wayne on the set with rude remarks that intentionally pushed his buttons. However, the actor took it out on Strode.

“This really pissed Wayne off but he would never take it out on Ford,” Strode said. “He ended up taking it out on me. We had one of the few outdoor scenes where we hightail it out to his ranch in a wagon. He’s driving and I’m kneeling in the back of the wagon. Wayne was riding those horses so fast that he couldn’t get them to stop. I reached up to grab the reins to help, and he swung and knocked me away.”

Strode continued: “When the horses finally stopped, Wayne fell out of the wagon and jumped off ready for a fight. I was in great shape in those days and Wayne was just getting a little too old and a little too out of shape for a fight. But if he’d started on me, I would have flattened him. Ford knew it, and he called out, ‘Woody, don’t hit him. We need him.’”

However, Wayne ultimately calmed down to allow them to continue filming. Nevertheless, Strode felt that “miserable” tension on the set as a result of Ford’s behavior.

“Wayne calmed down, and I don’t think it was because he was afraid of me,” Strode recalled. “Ford gave us a few hours’ break to cool off. Later Wayne said to me, ‘We gotta work together. We both gotta be professionals.’ But I blame Ford for all that trouble. He rode Wayne so hard, I thought he was going to go over the edge. What a miserable film to make.”

James Stewart has top billing on ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance ultimately gives Stewart top billing over Wayne in all of the promotional materials. However, the film itself and the theatre marquees place Wayne’s name above his co-star. Some audiences contemplate which role is truly the main character of the story, as they both experience hardship and change.

However, neither actor would get an Oscar nomination for their performances in one of the greatest Western movies ever made. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance only earned a nomination for Best Costume Design, although it lost to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Nevertheless, the movie remains a vital part of cinema history.

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What does John Wayne say about not liking Clint Eastwood’s personal views?

John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are perhaps the two best-known actors in the Western genre, but they came from two distinct periods in the genre’s history. Wayne rose to fame when Westerns represents black and white morality, and nobody questions the nobility of the white man’s reasons for heading west.

Manifest destiny was viewed as a positive thing, and there was no criticism of white encroachment on tribal land. Newer Westerns, of which Eastwood was the poster boy, were darker and morally ambiguous.

In the early ’70s, director Larry Cohen tried to combine the two eras of Westerns in a film called “The Hostiles.” He wanted John Wayne and Clint Eastwood to star in the movie together. Eastwood agreed, but Wayne immediately turned down the role. Eastwood made a second try at convincing him but was again rebuffed, this time in the form of a letter.

In the letter, Wayne told Eastwood exactly why he wasn’t interested in being in the film, and it was because he hated Eastwood’s most recent movie, “High Plains Drifter.” Wayne was unhappy that the movie hated the Old West and wanted nothing to do with a project that would likely take the same critical stance. Wayne felt that Westerns should continue to present a positive view of American expansion. That wasn’t something that Eastwood was particularly interested in doing.

He would only play roles that supported his tough guy image : John Wayne kept a tight hold on his image by making sure that the roles he played lined up with the public persona he wanted to portray. He only accepted roles that followed certain guidelines and demanded script revisions if his character did something he didn’t agree with.

Wayne preferred simple characters with simple understand, motivations. Moral ambiguity is something that he helped. His characters had to be “real men” with their own strict code of ethics. It was important to Wayne that none of his characters appeared weak or cowardly, and that they would always face challenges head on. “As a man, you can be scared, but you can’t be a coward,” Wayne said. This idea of ​​manhood fit neatly with Wayne’s conception of the Wild West, in which brave, righteous men fought their way across the frontier to secure land for their families.

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