John Wayne (1907 - 1979), US actor, wearing a black cowboy hat and a white neckerchief, holding a rifle in a studio portrait, against a white background, issued as publicity for the film, 'The Searchers', USA, 1956. The Western, directed by John Ford (1894-1973), starred Wayne as 'Ethan Edwards'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
The Darkness Of The Searchers Stuck With John Wayne Even When He Wasn't On Set
John Wayne is seen as one of the quintessential American movie stars, with his many roles creating a lasting legacy in the filmmaking industry. Although the actor did face a decline as the years passed, Wayne was willing to tarnish the heroic image that he had developed over his career and take on roles of more vile characters, such as in the 1956 film “The Searchers.”
Wayne may be the movie’s hero, but his Ethan Edwards character was a man burdened by hate and was as much a villain as the actual antagonist. According to David Welky and Randy Roberts' “John Wayne: Treasures,” being Ethan took an emotional toll on Wayne. A friend and co-star of Wayne, Harry Carey Jr., also noted the actor’s change to a darker demeanor while on set.
Carey Jr. shared, “[W]hen I looked up at [Duke] in rehearsal, it was into the meanest, coldest eyes I had ever seen. I don't know how he molded that character. Perhaps he'd known someone like Ethan Edwards as a kid. He was even like Ethan Edwards at dinnertime. He didn't kid around on 'The Searchers' like he had done on other shows. Ethan was always in his eyes.”