True Grit actor John Wayne became the face of the Western genre thanks to iconic classics, such as Stagecoach and Red River. He always had a firm understanding of characterization, but he always wanted to keep it family-friendly. Wayne once said that he actually preferred the changes made to the True Grit ending compared to the one in the original book, which wasn’t so “uplifting.”‘True Grit’ actor John Wayne played Rooster Cogburn
True Grit saw Wayne play the legendary Rooster Cogburn, a frequently inebriated and stern U.S. marshal, who 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) seeks out after her father’s murder. Together, they hunt down Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) to give him the death that he deserves. Meanwhile, Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell) joins them to bring him to a more civilized sense of justice.Henry Hathaway directed True Grit from Marguerite Roberts’ screenplay, which originated from Charles Portis’ book by the same name. There were some notable changes between the book and the movie, including the season from winter to summer. However, Roberts’ screenplay made more substantial changes to the story.John Wayne preferred the new ending for ‘True Grit’In an interview with film critic Roger Ebert, Wayne talked about the ending of True Grit. He was immensely proud of the movie and his performance in it. Nevertheless, the True Grit ending stuck out to Wayne as one of the film’s biggest improvements over the source material, which allowed Mattie to keep her hand.“And that ending,” Wayne prefaced. “I liked that. You know, in the book Mattie loses her hand from the snakebite, and I die, and the last scene in the book has her looking at my grave. But the way Marguerite Roberts wrote the screenplay, she gave it an uplift.”Wayne continued; “Mattie and Rooster both go to visit her family plot, after she gets cured of the snakebite. By now, it’s winter. And she offers to let Rooster be buried there someday, seeing as how he has no family of his own. Rooster’s happy to accept, long as he doesn’t have to take her up on it too quick. So then he gets on his horse and says, ‘Come and see a fat old man sometime.’ And then he spurs the horse and jumps a fence, just to show he still can.”John Wayne won an Oscar for ‘True Grit’Before True Grit, Wayne landed two Oscar nominations for his performance in Sands of Iwo Jima and his directorial debut with The Alamo. However, it wasn’t until the 1969 classic that he finally landed his only win at the Academy Awards.Some voters thought of it as giving him a career award, rather than just for an individual performance. After all, he never earned a career achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nevertheless, Wayne made history as Cogburn in True Grit, making the eyepatch prop one of the most legendary of all time that would continue to influence cinema moving forward.