Why Bruce Dern Took on Role in New Western ‘Last Shoot Out’

by Suzanne Halliburton

The 85-year-old Bruce Dern found another villain fans probably will love to hate. He’s in the new western, Last Shoot Out.

So why did Bruce Dern take the role of Blair Callahan in Last Shoot Out? He knew somebody who knew somebody. That’s how it works in Hollywood.

“The guy who directed it was a good friend of the guy who produced and starred in Badland, Kevin Makely, Dern told Cowboys and Indians. “And so, he said, “Jesus, Bruce will work on a little movie like that. Maybe he’ll do my movie.”

Then Bruce Dern diverted his attention to a country star. “And the thing that floored me about that movie was — did you see how good Trace Adkins was? I never even knew he was an actor.”

Adkins, like Dern, appeared in Badland. That’s the 2019 movie about a detective tracking down Confederate criminals from the Civil War. Adkins portrayed General Corbin Dandridge. Dern was Reginald Cook.

Here’s the plot for Last Shoot Out: “After newlywed Jocelyn learns that her husband Jody (Michael Welch, Twilight franchise) had her father shot down, she flees from the Callahan ranch in fear. She’s rescued by gunman Billy Tyson, who safeguards her at a remote outpost as he staves off Jody’s attempts to reclaim his bride.”

Bruce Dern is Jocelyn’s father-in-law. Cowboys and Indians likened the vile character to Walter Brennan’s Old Man Clanton in My Darling Clementine.

Of course, Bruce Dern has made a nice living portraying bad guys. After all, he’s part of a trivia question about John Wayne. How many times did the Duke die on screen? (Answer: nine) Well, Dern was one of the men who killed John Wayne. He did so in the 1972 movie, The Cowboys.

Dern, who portrayed a character known as Asa Watts, aka “Long Hair,” said his agent pitched him the role primarily because he was going to kill John Wayne, America’s beloved Western hero.

“My first starring role,” Dern told True West. “My agent called me: ‘You’ve got to have two days off next week because I have a role you must do. No one can know this. They’re doing a movie where John Wayne’s going to be killed, and you’re going to be the guy that does it!’”

Wayne even warned Bruce Dern about killing him on screen. Movie fans might not forgive him. They probably never did, but Dern still received plenty of quality work. He earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor in 1978 for Coming Home. And he picked up an Academy Award nomination in 2013 for best actor for Nebraska. In that movie, he played an aging Woody Grant, who was convinced he’d won big money in a sweepstakes.

Outsiders, you can catch Bruce Dern in Last Shoot Out at theaters. It was released, Dec. 3.