American actor John Wayne (1907 - 1979) as the Ringo Kid in a publicity still for the Western film 'Stagecoach', 1939. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
John Wayne’s Casting Made Funding Stagecoach A Struggle For John Ford
After winning an Oscar in 1935, John Ford was widely considered one of the best directors in Hollywood, so it came as a surprise when the director decided to take on a Western film — generally considered low-brow. To add to the fodder, Ford chose to cast a relatively unknown B-movie star by the name of John Wayne in his film, making it difficult to get funding.
Apparently, when Ford took his idea to producer David Selznick, he "explained the importance and potential of 'Stagecoach' as a new breed, a 'classic Western.' Slowly, Selznick began to come around.” However, when Selznick found out that John Wayne and Claire Trevor had already been cast, he lost interest, causing Ford to take his pitch elsewhere.
Ford found funding in the mild-mannered Walter Wanger of United Artists. Like everyone else in Hollywood, Wanger was surprised at Ford’s decision to cast John Wayne in the film, but when Ford refused to recast the role, Wanger accepted it. The rest is history, and time has proven John Wayne to be one of the most popular Western actors.