John Wayne bails out Kirk Douglas in a scene from the film 'In Harm's Way', 1965. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Playing Vincent Van Gogh Earned Kirk Douglas A Dressing Down From John Wayne
Kirk Douglas was one of the most well-regarded actors of the 20th century and one of his most famous roles was that of tragic painter Vincent Van Gogh in 1956’s "Lust for Life." While, to most people, the role was yet another success in Douglas' long line of excellent performances, one of his peers, John Wayne, was not a fan of his role in the biopic.
After a private showing of "Lust for Life," John Wayne had a few drinks and approached Douglas. In an interview with James Bawden and Ron Miller in Conversations with Classic Film Stars, Douglas said, "Afterwards, he motioned to me to go out on the veranda with him, and he berated me! He said, 'How the hell could you play a goddamn character like that?”
Wayne told Douglass that he “should never play those kinds of weak, sniveling characters,” and he didn’t want him playing parts like that anymore because “They have no dignity.” Thankfully Douglas did not take this criticism to heart, as it allowed him to continue exploring a far more interesting and diverse pool of roles for the rest of his career.