Duvall’s temper did not apparently mellow through the decades, with Michael Caine saying it was “quite violent” when they were filming Secondhand Lions in 2003.
Duvall was also a Method actor, and his intense approach and irritation with anything that did not match up to it caused problems with Wayne and True Grit director Henry Hathaway.
This spilled over into loud and aggressive confrontations on set.
Duvall recalled in 2015, “The director and I didn’t get along — I don’t get along with a lot of directors,” and another time, “Henry Hathaway… we won’t talk about him.”
Hathaway also had a very strong personality and was aggressively dictatorial on set, which Duvall did not respond well to.
The actor later recalled: “He’d say, ‘When I say, ‘Action!’ tense up, Goddam you.” It’s hard to work under that as a young actor.”
Wayne’s increasing irritation with the disruptions to his cherished project led to him also fighting with Duvall and finally threatening to punch him out if the other actor didn’t stop arguing with the director.
Duvall later spoke about the experience of working with the screen legend.
John Wayne and Robert Duvall clashed on True Grit
He said: “Wayne wasn’t as bad as some supposedly serious actors I’ve seen who trained at the Actors Studio and all that… Wayne was interesting to be around. He was pleasant and outgoing…
“He was an institution unto himself, and that final film he did, The Shootist, it was wonderful what he did. So he was a good guy to work with, absolutely.”
Wayne, himself, was never happy with his work on True Grit. Even on the night, he won his Oscar, the veteran star took fellow nominee Richard Burton aside and told him he should have won for Anne of a Thousand Days.
When Barbra Streisand, who won the previous year for Funny Girl, handed him the golden statuette, she later revealed he had whispered in her ear “Beginners luck.”