“Go ahead, make my day,” and, "Whoa, take 'er easy there, Pilgrim," are two of the most famous movie quotes of all time, spoken by two of the most iconic actors ever to grace the silver screen. But what do you really know about John Wayne and Clint Eastwood?
Both men emerged from humble roots, fought their way through a morass of depressing Hollywood roles, and then pulled themselves up by the (literal and figurative) bootstraps to become major movie star celebrities. Did you know that one of them had such a difficult time breaking through that he went all the way to Italy to star in a cowboy film, and then almost immediately shot to fame? And that one never mentioned his birth name (Marion) because he absolutely hated it?
Neither man was content with simply acting in films, so they both took up directing, too. But only one of them cobbled together an Academy Award-winning career, both in front of and behind the camera. Do you know who it was?
With their competing steely gazes, these two film heroes starred in dozens and dozens of films, but only one of them had a promising athletic career, ended by injury. Can you name the star?
Click now and see if you’re tough enough to survive our Wayne-Eastwood quiz. If you make it, you’ll understand that, “Out here, due process is a bullet!”
John Wayne's birth name was Marion, a moniker he despised from his earliest days. He got the nickname "Duke" because he always hung around the family dog of the same name.
After a hiatus from the genre, Clint Eastwood returned to Westerns with a vengeance in the 1992 film, "Unforgiven." The dark Western was nominated for five Academy Awards and won four.
Wayne was toiling in the movie industry for a decade before nabbing a role as Ringo Kid in "Stagecoach." The movie helped push him to a much higher pay grade.
In "Dirty Harry," Eastwood famously asks a young punk if he thinks he can really get away. "Dirty" Harry Callahan wasn't scared of anyone, even if he did run out of ammo.
In the 1950s, anti-Communist fever swept the country, and John Wayne was an outspoken Hollywood star who wanted to blacklist Communists and Communist sympathizers from the movie industry.
In 2004, Eastwood starred in (and directed) "Million Dollar Baby." The movie features Hilary Swank as an up-and-coming boxer.
John Ford will always be known as a director of iconic Westerns. He was sometimes publicly hard on Wayne (and generally cranky,) but his harsh methods succeeded, sparking Wayne to great work in both "Rio Grande" and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon."
In "Play Misty for Me," Eastwood is a radio DJ who encounters a stalker who really, really wants him to play a song called "Misty." His costar, Jessica Walter, was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role.
Wayne dabbled in directing. Eastwood, on the other hand, has directed dozens of films during his career. Many of his films have been enormously successful, including "Million Dollar Baby."
John Wayne was renowned for spending his downtime playing chess. He'd even play quick games with fans!
In the "Dollars Trilogy" of Westerns (that started with the movie, "A Fistful of Dollars,") Eastwood's nameless character always wore an old poncho. The first movie, which came out in 1964, was a low-budget, international co-production.
Eastwood's career was stuck in neutral when he got the call from director Sergio Leone in Italy. In 1964, he starred as the Man With No Name in "A Fistful of Dollars," and suddenly he became a star.
In the 1962 film, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," Wayne was relegated to a supporting role as Tom Doniphon. However, he still delivered one of his most memorable lines, "Pilgrim."
In 1959, Wayne again worked with director, Howard Hawks, this time on "Rio Bravo." It was an unorthodox cast; one featuring slick-haired crooner Dean Martin.
In 1969, Wayne won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of a rugged U.S. marshal who wears a black eye patch and sets out to catch a murderer.
Director Francis Ford Coppola offered Eastwood a starring role in "Apocalypse Now." Why'd he turn it down? He didn't want to spend 16 weeks in the Philippines. It ended up taking significantly longer than that to film the movie.
Howard Hawks is still regarded as one of the best directors of Westerns, ever. He teamed up with Wayne for the film, "Red River," a movie that showed Wayne's acting range and his ability to play darker characters.
It was Clint Eastwood who told this poor man to start digging. In "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly," he reprised his role as the Man with No Name, a dark character with little regard for the lives of criminals.
In the 2008 film, "Gran Torino," Eastwood is a cantankerous old man at odds with some younger folks in an urban setting. He might be old, but the kids learn not to mess with him.
John Wayne grew up in Glendale, California and landed a football scholarship at USC in Los Angeles. However, his life path changed drastically due to a body surfing accident that left him unable to play football.
John Wayne tipped the scales at 13 pounds when he was born. Eastwood was a big baby, too. He weighed more than 11 pounds. For comparison, the average weight of a newborn is between 5.5 and 9.9 pounds.
In the smash hit "Dirty Harry" films, Eastwood played the part of a grungy city cop who isn't intimidated by crooks. He says two variations of this famous line in the fourth film, "Sudden Impact."
Clint Eastwood, who was in the military at the time, survived (along with the pilot) a doomed dive-bomber that needed to be ditched off the coast of California. Luckily, with the help of a life raft, Eastwood was able to get to shore, and both men were uninjured.
In the 1968 film, "Green Berets," Wayne took a break from Westerns for a war epic. It was actually a pro-Vietnam War film that was meant to present the pro-military view of the war as an answer to all the anti-war sentiment.
Eastwood's protruding Adam's apple is one of his most prominent physical features, and some casting types thought it was too distracting for a film actor. He did, of course, prove all of them wrong.
John Wayne didn't like to talk directly about the disease he battled multiple times in his life. He called cancer "The Big C." It's a term that subsequently became common in daily language.
As William Munny in "Unforgiven," Eastwood was a craggy, dangerous older man. He was hardened to the act of killing, but still wanted to spare lives when possible.
In 1976, Eastwood took on the task of playing Josey in, "The Outlaw Josey Wales." It's a story of murder and revenge and the dark consequences of both.
John Wayne puffed on cigarettes like they were going out of style. He paid the price. He developed cancer twice and died from the disease.
Two years before Wayne was diagnosed with the stomach cancer that would eventually kill him, he played a character with cancer coming to terms with his mortality in, "The Shootist."