Movie star John Wayne had a lot going on while he was filming Hondo. He starred in the leading role, but he took over some important responsibilities while working on the set. Co-star Geraldine Page liked Wayne, even though she recognized his inappropriate behavior when he lost his temper. Even Hollywood’s biggest names can find it difficult to keep work and personal issues separate, although it can have some nasty consequences.
‘Hondo’ actor John Wayne had a tough time on the set
Hondo tells the story of an Army despatch rider named Hondo Lane (Wayne) who comes across Angie Lowe (Page) and her son, (Lee Aaker). He agrees to stay and protect them from nearby Apaches who threaten their physical safety. Hondo had the type of hero role that fit Wayne perfectly, but he encountered some other issues during the shoot.
The actor was separated from his wife, Pilar, and he couldn’t get her out of his mind. As a result, Wayne took out his frustrations on the work at hand. Additionally, there wasn’t much to do during his downtime. The filming locations switched between heavy rain and blistering heat, further pushing Wayne toward his breaking point.
Geraldine Page said John Wayne ‘bullied’ a child actor when he took over directing duties
Ronald L. Davis’ book, Duke: The Life and Image of John Wayne, detailed how the movie star handled filming Hondo. He continued to grow impatient with the speed of production and some of the decision-making taking place. As a result, Page told Davis that Wayne would actually direct more than the filmmaker, John Farrow. He even made demands with the studio involving the placement of the 3D cameras. But, it didn’t end there, as he’d get rather heated.
“Every morning, when he would be hungover, he would have a screaming fit,” Page said. “He’d yell at somebody until he got hoarse. He would pick on some technical point, and he was always right.”
There were some scenes that he would repeat over and over trying to get it just right. Page never disagreed with his comments, but she did draw issues with the way that he handled child actor Aaker. Wayne “got tired” of trying to get the young Hondo actor to perform the scene perfectly. As a result, “he kept trying to bully the child into doing what he wanted, and the boy wouldn’t do it.”
Nevertheless, Page emphasized that Wayne was “a terribly honest man, and that comes across on the screen, underlined by the kinds of parts he plays … Wayne has a leadership quality, so that people revere him.”
Wayne didn’t quite have the same feelings of respect toward Page while they filmed Hondo. He believed that his co-star didn’t have the necessary skills for moviemaking, given that she was from the world of Broadway. It was her first feature film, and the Duke thought her voice was “whiny.”
To his surprise, Page got high praise for her work on Hondo. In fact, she earned an Oscar nomination for it, which shocked him. Famous director Andrew McLaglen called the Western movie star up to tell him the news. In response, the director said “there was silence on the other end of the phone. Duke couldn’t understand it.”
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