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Lenz shared: “I’ve heard that because of his illness he was short-tempered during the filming of The Shootist. I never saw that. He and the director, Don Siegel, were at odds about how to shoot this Western, but I never saw that either. Wayne seemed to like me. I think that was mostly because I was good casting for the role and I knew my lines. He was a professional and always valued such things.
“I think the thing that surprised me most was what a good actor he was. My memories of him came largely from seeing him in Westerns when I was a kid. When I went to New York to become an actor, he was not exactly what the acting school maestros referred to as a fine actor. It took me a while to learn that that was a pretty limited definition.
“There was something about Wayne’s personality that I think was basically uncomfortable in front of a camera. But I understand that he had always worked on himself to become a better actor. The kind of off-balance thing about him never went away, and the result was, I think, that he was very real and honest. Certainly, as John Bernard Books in The Shootist, he was real and very touching.”
Interestingly one of the first things the conservative Duke did when he met Lenz was to ask him where he stood politically.
READ MORE: John Wayne was so ill on final movie production was almost shut down