We all remember John Wayne for being the honorable, heroic cowboy— yet The Duke was not without a temper. While filming his 1970 Western film, Chisum, Wayne proved to be a lot like the man he played in westerns.
During a 2018 interview, Wayne’s co-star, Chris Mitchum opened up about what it was like to work with the legend. According to the actor, Wayne was much like the character he presented on the screen: just and stern when he felt it necessary.
“He was big enough that he would state when he was wrong,” Mitchum began about working with Wayne on set. “He also was extremely fair. I remember one time when we were doing Chisum, the prop guy asked the cast to check their guns when they left the set as it was unsafe around Durango and he did not want them to be misplaced.”
John Wayne Yelled at an Actor
According to Mitchum, the prop guy went to find Geoff Duel, another actor on set who made a mistake of not keeping a close watch on his guns— which were real firearms.
“Duke waited until everybody was seated having lunch. Duke stood up and ripped Geoff apart for not checking his gun. He hollered, ‘Everybody on the set has a job to do, and we help everybody do their job. We work as a single unit here. You were asked to check your gun. Do it and don’t make him come running!’” Mitchum continued.
Even though Wayne was known for being a bit hot-headed at times, he only acted that way when he saw someone not being treated fairly.
“The next day there was an actor standing and Duke said, ‘Why don’t you go sit down? It’s hot.’ This actor replied, ‘Well Duke, I don’t have a chair.’ Duke had gotten his start as a prop man for Fox in the late 1920s. He called the prop guy over and just ripped him a new one for not having a chair there. Duke gave it out to everybody who was out of line,” Mitchum said of John Wayne.
Mitchum also described Wayne as being “more of a mentor and a father to me in the business than my own father was.” He also added that “Duke did nothing but give me support. He took me from a two or three-line role to costarring with him. He basically made my career.”
Throughout his career, Mitchum would star alongside Wayne in films such as Chisum, Rio Lobo, and the legendary Big Jake.