John Wayne is a true Hollywood legend whose work helped to define an entire generation of Americans. Though he was incredibly popular during his lifetime, The Duke had his naysayers just like any actor. True to form, John Wayne didn’t take any flack from his critics nor did his grandson Brendan who followed in his footsteps.
One of the many thing Wayne’s critics went after him about was that they felt that all of his characters were essentially the same person.
America’s favorite cowboy, however, was not having any of it. He once fired back at these critics to defend his characters and point out that each of them actually were unique in their own way.
"Everybody gets dead. It was his turn." – John Wayne in Hondo (1953) pic.twitter.com/iHVIhaQ94K
— John Wayne Official (@JohnDukeWayne) June 29, 2021
John Wayne Fires Back At His Critics
“You get something of that in the character of Rooster,” Wayne explained in a 1969 interview with Roger Ebert, referring to the character of Rooster Cogburn that he played in True Grit.
“Well, they say he’s not like what I’ve done before, and I even say that, but he does have facets of the John Wayne character, huh? I think he does,” he continued.
“Of course, they give me that John Wayne stuff so much, claim I always play the same role. Seems like nobody remembers how different the fellows were in The Quiet Man. or Iwo Jima, or Yellow Ribbon, where I was 35 playing a man of 65. To stay a star, you have to bring along some of your own personality. Thousands of good actors can carry a scene, but a star has to carry the scene and still, without intruding, allow some of his character into it. What do you think?”
John Wayne’s Grandson Brendan Defends Him
Decades later, John Wayne’s grandson Brendan defended him from these same critics. Like his grandfather, 49-year-old Brendan is an actor whose work includes credits on “The Mandalorian”, “Sons of Anarchy”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and more.
Brendan was appearing in a remake of one of his grandfather’s films, Angel and the Badman. Brendan starred opposite Lou Diamond Phillips when he heard his costar speaking negatively about his grandfather.
Like a true Wayne, Brendan decided to confront him.
“I did overhear him doing an interview, and he said something like, ‘You know, the Duke was just the Duke. He kind of just played that character. I’m going to bring something a little bigger, a little darker to it,’” Brendan Wayne recalled.
Brendan came close to having a confrontation with the costar, but his mother was able to convince him to let it go. Even so, Brendan sees his beloved grandfather as one of the best actors of all time.
— Lo Mo Pro (@Lo_Mo_Pro) December 13, 2017
Brendan Wayne Doubles Down
“I about lost my temper,” Brendan continued. “My mom was in my ear, saying, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’ To be overlooked by critics is one thing, but when another actor doesn’t recognize John’s ability to be subtle and powerful.”
“Watch the original Angel and the Badman, and you’re going to see a guy who’s got range,” he added. “It’s one of the greatest acting performances I’ve ever seen, period.”
One thing is for sure: there will never be another John Wayne.
Thankfully, he will live on forever through the incredible characters he played in his many classic films.