John Wayne and Elvis Presley are some of the most iconic figures in entertainment history. However, their fans primarily know them for different mediums of art. Nevertheless, Wayne and Presley almost co-starred in the Oscar-winning film True Grit, but Presley’s manager “pushed it too far.”
John Wayne plays Rooster Cogburn in ‘True Grit’
L-R: John Wayne and Glen Campbell | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images
True Grit begins its story after Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) murders the father of a 14-year-old girl named Mattie Ross (Kim Darby). As a result, she seeks vengeance and decides to hire U.S. Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn (Wayne). They join forces with La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who wants to capture Tom for another murder. They wrestle with different ideas of how to carry out justice in the West.
Wayne and Presley are both known for their signature styles, but audiences specifically criticized Wayne for essentially playing himself in his movies. However, True Grit is perhaps Wayne’s most iconic movie of his career. The film went on to get a remake in 2010.
Elvis Presley didn’t star alongside John Wayne as ‘La Boeuf’ because his manager ‘pushed it too far’
Express reported that Wayne and Presley almost co-starred in True Grit. Presley’s cousin, Billy Smith, explained that Wayne actually asked the “King of Rock and Roll” to co-star in multiple of his movies. “In fact, he asked him a couple of times,” Smith said. The Western legend wanted Presley to play La Boeuf.
However, Presley’s manager, The Colonel, “pushed it too far” with his demands. He stated that Presley should have top billing above Wayne. However, that wasn’t going to work out.
“Of course, it was always carried through Colonel, and at that time when he was asking, Elvis was such a big star,” Smith said. “Colonel didn’t want him to play second co-star or second star … with anybody else, so that ruled that out.”
Wayne was also a huge star at the time and wasn’t going to accept Presley getting top billing. The True Grit producers also wanted Presley but switched to fellow musician Campbell to play La Boeuf. He ultimately earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
John Wayne earned his only Oscar for ‘True Grit’
Wayne earned a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima and a Best Picture nomination for The Alamo. However, his fans believe that he deserved nominations for other films, including The Shootist. Nevertheless, he finally earned the golden statue for Best Actor in a Leading Role in True Grit.
The world would love to see Wayne and Presley co-star in a Western movie. However, it ultimately wasn’t in the cards. Regardless, both stars had massive careers that continue to live on through their art that touched so many lives around the world.