He has over 180 film and TV roles credited under his name, but there was only one film that American western movie icon John Wayne would return to for a sequel.
Out of all the films he’s known for, John Wayne returned to play his “True Grit” character, the less charismatic Marshal Rooster Cogburn, in the character-titled sequel. According to IMDb, the sequel follows Cogburn as he unwilling teams up with Eula Goodnight (Katharine Hepburn) to track down her father’s murderers. However, Upon returning for the sequel, Wayne’s character was stripped of his badge because of drunkenness and questionable use of his firearms. So it was a film mainly about redeeming his character.
The sequel made its debut six years after “True Grit” and it grossed more than $17 million at the box office, per Way Back Machine. It was also considered the 25th highest-grossing film of 1975. Along with Hepburn, others starring in the sequel were Anthony Zerbe, Richard Jordan, John McIntire, Paul Koslo, and Jack Colvin.
John Wayne Called His ‘True Grit’ Role His First Decent Role in 20 Years
During a 1969 interview with Roger Ebert, John Wayne spoke about his performance as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.”
“It’s sure as hell my first decent role in 20 years,” John Wayne declared. “And my first chance to play a character role instead of John Wayne. Ordinarily, they just stand me there and run everybody up against me.”
Also speaking about western films, John Wayne declared the westerns he has done were an American art form. “It represents what this country is about. In ‘True Grit,’ for example, that scene where Rooster shoots the rate. That was a kind of reference to today’s problems. Oh, not that ‘True Grit’ has a message of anything. But that scene was about less accommodation and more justice.”
John Wayne also pointed out that he loved the “True Grit” novel as well. “I loved that book. Charles Portis got a real Mark Twain feeling, the cynicism and the humor. I tried to buy the book myself. I went up to $300,000, and that’s pretty good going for an unpublished galley of a Western story. But Hat Wallis knew about this other book by Portis, ‘Norwood,’ and he made an offer for both and outbid me. Then he came back to me to play Rooster.”
John Wayne goes on to declare that he liked so many things about the film as well. “The dialogue, for one. It’s the authentic stuff. The way people talked. The last time I had dialogue of that style was in ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,’ when John Ford had the integrity to use dialogue that fit the period. Mostly, nobody gives a damn.”
Wayne had won his first and only Oscar for playing the Marshal in “True Grit.”