Big Jake, poster, top: John Wayne on French poster art, 1971. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Big Jake Could Have Been A Team Up Between Young Jeff Bridges And John Wayne
Hollywood history is littered with "what ifs" and one "what if" that falls in the middle of the spectrum in terms of significance is the casting of Michael McCandles in George Sherman's "Big Jake." However, what if the role of Michael, the rebellious son of John Wayne's title character, had gone to an up-and-coming actor named Jeff Bridges?
Bridges’s father, Lloyd Bridges, wasn't exactly Hollywood royalty, but he was a big enough name to open doors, one of which led to Wayne's son Michael, who was overseeing the production of "Big Jake." According to Michael, Sherman and Wayne subjected the young Bridges to "fifty-five interviews, twenty-three readings, and three tests."
They ended up offering him an eight-week contract at $1,750 a week, which was good money in 1971, but Bridges was being eyed at the same time for the role of Duane Jackson in Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show." Bridges declined Wayne's offer, and went with the relatively untested director of "Target," and was rewarded with his first Oscar nomination.