James Caan Recalled Hilarious Story about John Wayne from Set of ‘El Dorado’ in 1997 Interview


James Caan once recalled a hilarious story about his co-star John Wayne while on the set of the 1966 film El Dorado.

In 1997, James Caan joined The Late Show with David Letterman to dish on John Wayne after they starred alongside one another on the hit movie El Dorado.

While Wayne portrayed the noble elder gunfighter Cole Thorton, Caan plays his loyal friend, Mississippi. Furthermore, the movie was directed by esteemed producer Howard Hawks.

James Caan Reflects on El Dorado

James Caan notes that the first big-name he worked with in Hollywood was John Wayne. Wayne was 33 years older than Caan and already had booming success in the industry, so naturally, James Caan admired the Duke.

“He was great because he could intimidate you,” explains Caan. “He’d stay on you forever, and you’d just crumble. I mean, he’d just try you.”

However, on the set of El Dorado, James Caan recalled getting directions from Howard Hawks, also known as Coach.

“So this one night I remember I was between he and Mitchum and Howard Hawks was about 72 at the time, and we’re outside in this old Tucson. This big old western town and Hawks comes up and says, ‘now look, Kid, when you say that line, here’s what’s going to happen. Duke, you go down the middle of the road right down the center because we are going to surround this bar. Mitchum, you go around that way, and Kid, you go around.’ I said, ‘alright, Coach.’ because that’s what we called him, Coach.’”

“He was coach,” notes Letterman. “John Wayne was Duke, and you’re the Kid.”

After Hawk gave the instructions, he began walking back to the cameras. James Caan, who does a perfect John Wayne impression, reflected on when Wayne tried to offer the then-youngster a few tips.

“So now he has to walk back up 50 yards back to the camera. There’s all kinds of extras, and he’s walking back, and the dude looks at me and goes, ‘now look, Kid.’ He says, ‘when you say that there line, I want you to turn around and give me that look you give me.’”

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