When famous director Stanley Kubrick (“Lolita,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Room 237”) set out to make “Dr. Strangelove,” he had a very specific vision in mind. A part of his vision involved possibly getting John Wayne or Dan Blocker in his iconic comedy movie.
The 1964 film satirizes the Cold War and focuses on a conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Kubrick directed, produced, and co-wrote the movie. He eventually chose Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Slim Pickens for the film.
Now, it’s considered one of the best comedy films ever made. In fact, it was one of the first 25 films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
“Dr. Strangelove” ended up being Slim Pickens’s most popular role in the film industry. He was originally a rodeo performer before moving on to acting and appearing in dozens of movies and TV shows. While Kubrick picked Pickens, he also had several other Western stars galloping through his imagination to play Major T.J. “King” Kong, the B-52 Stratofortress bomber’s commander and pilot.
John Wayne and Dan Blocker ‘Dr. Strangelove’
According to Mental Floss, Kubrick had his eyes on John Wayne for the role. At the time, John Wayne was in the midst of his highly influential acting and directing career. In 1963, he was in “How the West Was Won,” “Donovan’s Reef,” and “McLintock!.” In 1964, he was in Melville Shavelson’s “Cast a Giant Shadow.” Wayne ended up completely ignoring Kubrick’s messages about “Dr. Strangelove.”