John Wayne and Kirk Douglas are known for being two of the most iconic Hollywood stars of all time. What many fans may not known, however, is that Wayne once berated Douglas over one of his most famous roles.
— John Wayne Official (@JohnDukeWayne) July 15, 2018
Wayne Slammed Douglas For Oscar-Nominated Role
The Express reported that though the two stars were friends, Wayne was not a fan of Douglas’ performance in the 1956 biographical film Lust for Life, in which he played the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh. The film was met with rave reviews, still holding an 85 percent positive rating on reviews aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, and Douglas even received an Oscar nomination for his work in the movie.
Check out a trailer for the film in the video below.
Despite all the positive reviews, Wayne let it be known that he did not think Douglas ever should have taken this role.
“When I played Van Gogh in Lust for Life, we had a private showing of it, and John Wayne was there,” Douglas once recalled. “We had a little supper party, and Wayne had a few drinks.”
He added, “Afterwards, he motioned to me to go out on the veranda with him, and he berated me! He said, ‘How the hell could you play a goddamn character like that?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m an actor. He’s a fascinating character.’”
“And Wayne said, ‘No, no. We should never play those kinds of weak, snivelling characters. I don’t ever want to see you in a part like that again! They have no dignity!'” Douglas recounted.
Wayne And Douglas Disagreed Politically
While Wayne and Douglas appear to have maintained their friendship through the years, one thing that they did not agree on was politics. Wayne was a proud conservative while Douglas was a staunch liberal, so it was difficult for them to find any common ground in political discussions.
In a 1971 interview with Dick Cavett, Douglas was asked about Wayne’s controversial views on the US taking Native American land which, according to The Express, Wayne said happened “because a lot of people needed land and the Indians were being selfish and thought that they ought to have it.”
“I don’t want to get involved in a conversation about John Wayne,” Douglas responded. “I’ve made quite a few pictures with John Wayne and, by the way, I’ve always called him John. Everybody calls him Duke. We have never seen eye-to-eye on a lot of things.”
However, Douglas made sure to then compliment Wayne by describing him as “one of the most professional actors I’ve ever worked with.”
Indeed, Douglas and Wayne worked together on three movies: In Harm’s Way (1965), Cast A Giant Shadow (1966), and War Wagon (1967).
KIRK DOUGLAS talking about his relationship with John Wayne, "we have never seen eye to eye on a lot of things." pic.twitter.com/fySHSCh7HY
— All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) June 21, 2022
Wayne And Douglas’ Friendship Is Refreshing
These days, Hollywood liberals oftentimes refuse to even associate with conservatives, so it’s refreshing to see that Wayne and Douglas were able to put their differing political views aside to maintain a friendship through the years.
Wayne passed away in 1979 at the age of 72 and Douglas died decades later in 2020 at the age of 103, but they will always live on through their legendary Hollywood movies. It’s always fun to hear what these two icons of Hollywood’s golden era were really like behind the scenes!