John Wayne details Hollywood roles hed downright refuse

John Wayne reveals roles he would refuse in 1969

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In an episode of Talking Pictures about the career of John Wayne, the actor revealed the careful consideration he took when accepting film roles. John became a Hollywood sensation after starring in Western and war films through the Golden Age. In the documentary, John is seen detailing the parts he would consider and the ones he would “downright” refuse.

When asked about how he chose to play a particular part, John said: “Personal story is a rule, sometimes you’re stuck.

“And it’s getting time for an assignment to come up, and you accept stories that are completed, but as a rule, whenever that happens, you run into a mess.

“But I haven’t learned my lesson completely, yet I still do it on occasion,” he laughed.

John also went on to talk about the parts he would refuse and said: “Anything mean and petty.

“I think I’ve established a character on a screen that may be rough, may be cruel, may have a different code than the average person, but it’s never been mean and petty or small.”

During the documentary, John spoke of his legal degree he obtained after university, and revealed he had intended to pursue the career before becoming an actor.

“I think I would have enjoyed the occupation, while I was going to school, I was offered a job in the summertime working at the studio.

“I met Mr John Ford, and I enjoyed working with him and watching all the people through the scene, and then I go back to school and say, ‘Well, this kid’s father is a lawyer.’

“‘This kid’s uncle is an established lawyer, and they’re going into those offices, and one of them will take me in, and I’ll be writing in the backroom.’

“So it didn’t look as appealing or exciting as the pictures, so when I was offered the acting job, I accepted it without realising it would end up a career,” he revealed.

John was also known for his strong far right-wing views and republican politics.

In the 1950s, he was a prominent supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee in their efforts to remove communists from the acting and film industry.


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Michael Parkinson was keen to dig deeper into his views and pulled him up on the topic in an interview in 1974.

Michael asked: “Can I talk to you now about another much-publicised aspect of your life which is the sort of political views that you hold?

“I’d like to particularly ask you as well, because it’s related to the film industry, about that period in your career in Hollywood.

“You were at the forefront of the people who were blacklisting the alleged communist’s members of….”

However, before he could continue, John abruptly cut him off and said: “That’s not a true statement, we were not blacklisting, they were.”

Confused, Michael stated: “Well, you were naming them?”

John immediately replied: “No, they were blacklisting. We didn’t name anybody. We stayed completely out of it and said, ‘We are Americans’.

“Anybody who wanted to join us was fine. We gave no names out to anybody at any time ever.”

Talking Pictures: John Wayne is available on BBC iPlayer now.

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