Mia Farrow Always Regretted Not Starring in One John Wayne Classic

by Joe Rutland
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Actress Mia Farrow has been in some iconic film roles in her career. For her, not appearing in this John Wayne classic fills her with regret.

What movie from the Wayne collection is Farrow talking about? Let’s check into this with some help from SlashFilm. The film we are talking about here is True Grit starring John Wayne and Kim Darby. But Farrow had a chance at the Darby role.

This was in 1968 and Farrow had TV success through Peyton Place. The actress also was briefly married to Frank Sinatra. Her breakout film role was in Roman Polanski’s horror film Rosemary’s Baby. That role put her acting alongside like John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon, no easy pickings for actors right there. She was all set to appear in the British film drama Secret Ceremony. But she was looking at True Grit.

John Wayne Picture Director Left Farrow With Some Doubts About Him

Farrow did agree to play Mattie, which Darby eventually did. But Farrow had some doubts. Director Henry Hathaway had a tough reputation as a dictator on set. Years before True Grit, Hathaway and Dennis Hopper duked it out while filming From Hell to Texas. Even Robert Mitchum, a Farrow costar, told her about Hathaway’s reputation.

On True Grit, she tried to get Hathaway tossed and replaced with Polanski. Hal B. Wallis said no. And John Wayne was no fan of Rosemary’s Baby. Remember, Wayne held on to “good Christian American values” in public life. He would never have a director of a movie about Satanists.

So, Mia Farrow backed out. Hathaway would yell at Darby, but a heart-to-heart chat ended his behavior toward her. Farrow was spared from that mess, yet she would regret her decision. Instead of True Grit with John Wayne, Farrow made the mildly-received New Hollywood lovers’ drama John and Mary.

Film Went On To Become True Hollywood Classic

True Grit was a Hollywood classic and it wouldn’t have been the same without Darby. But what might have been with Mia Farrow in the flick. Remember, too, that this was long before the Coen Brothers put their spin on it in 2010.

The first time seeing the movie on screen was in 1969 with Hal B. Wallis producing. It was John Wayne who pushed for both Wallis and Hathaway to be involved. Wayne would play U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, hired by Mattie Ross, played by Darby, to find the man who killed her father. 

Darby was known for roles in TV westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza. Darby’s performance in the film is strong, developing Mattie as a well-mannered girl who alternates between disgust and admiration for the drunken, eyepatched Rooster. Wayne was proud of his performance as Rooster Cogburn.  

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