The Time John Wayne Almost Punched Robert Duvall (For Real)
John Wayne was not to be trifled with on-set, as a young Robet Duvall almost learned the hard way while filming '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.
Happy 91st birthday to the wonderful actor Robert Duvall who played Lucky Ned Pepper in True Grit, 1969. The film also had Glen Campbell and Kim Darby in it. Here’s one of John Wayne’s most watched clips.#JohnWayne #RobertDuvall #TrueGrit pic.twitter.com/1hzx1IQ6oR
— John Wayne Fans (@TheDukeFans) January 5, 2022
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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.
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!
John Wayne, James Caan and Robert Mitchum photographed on the set of El Dorado (1966) pic.twitter.com/xg6Z2MYsgm
— Old Hollywood (@TheOldHollywood) January 4, 2022
John Wayne and Gary Cooper in Acapulco, 1953 – photo by Phil Stern pic.twitter.com/DY5JOit66S
— Conrad J. Barrington (@cjubarrington) January 1, 2022
Two important men in John Wayne’s life were Ward Bond & John Ford. John Ford hired Ward Bond & Duke, who were former USC Football teammates, in 1929 to work on Ford’s film Salute. Ward & Duke went on to appear in 22 films together & John Wayne worked on 18 films together. pic.twitter.com/GzlDTxuhVj
— John Wayne Official (@JohnDukeWayne) December 30, 2021
Share your favorite John Wayne memory in the comments below.