John Wayne Robert Duvall punch True Grit

Don’t mess with The Duke, especially when you’re on set with him. John Wayne was a legendary no-nonsense character both on and off the screen. His real-life gruffness helped make his big-screen gruff all the more believable. There was no movie that better showcased this than John Wayne’s Oscar-winning turn as Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 Western classic, True Grit

John Wayne And Robert Duvall Square Off In True Grit

While on set it was best not to clash heads or personalities with John Wayne, up-and-coming star Robert Duvall almost learned that lesson the hard way while filming True Grit.

Duvall is famously known for his on-set temper. Even as a youngster he often clashed with directors and The Duke wasn’t having it

Wayne’s increasing irritation with the disruptions to his cherished project led to him also fighting with Duvall and finally threatening to punch him out if the other actor didn’t stop arguing with the director.

In later years, Duvall spoke highly of Wayne, saying his realistic style of acting made him easier to get along with.

“Wayne wasn’t as bad as some supposedly serious actors I’ve seen who trained at the Actors Studio and all that… Wayne was interesting to be around. He was pleasant and outgoing.”

Wayne was known to be serious but not too serious of an actor. Not classically trained and certainly not a “method” actor, as many of the young up-and-comers were in his day.

You can watch the classic scene between Robert Duvall and John Wayne in the tweet below.

Why The Duke Stood Out

What is great about Wayne compared to a lot of “trained” actors is that there is never a sense that was ACTING. A lot of older actors were classically trained where you had to be big and expressive so someone at the back of the theater could see every move you made and word you said. 

Wayne was famously unschooled as an actor.

He began his career as a prop boy and runner after a derailed football career. He was an extra and a bit player for four years before being discovered on set moving furniture to start in The Big Trail.

Wayne’s career as the quintessential western star took off from there.

I think Wayne was so successful in Westerns because it is a genre that depends so much on emotional realism and natural being. Wayne was a raw and sturdy man who looked torn from the pages of Kid Colt Outlaw.

Related: Is Yellowstone Star Kevin Costner The Modern Day John Wayne?

Classic John Wayne on-set

John Wayne is undeniably cut from a different cloth than today’s Hollywood stars. Below are a few of my favorite candid photos of The Duke on and off camera. Enjoy!


Share your favorite John Wayne memory in the comments below.

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