‘Gunsmoke’: James Arness Said Why He Didn’t ‘Connect’ to Hollywood in 2005 Interview

by Matthew Wilson
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James Arness may have starred on “Gunsmoke” for 20 years. But the actor once revealed he didn’t connect much with Hollywood, especially the modern-day industry.

In a 2005 interview, Arness confessed that modern-day movies didn’t really appeal to him. The industry had changed a lot since Arness first started acting. For one, westerns weren’t in vogue by 2005 as they were in the 1950s and 1960s. Cowboys and also the prairie once dominated cinema and the public imagination. But audiences moved on to other genres like science fiction and superheroes.

“They are not my kind of movies, the movies that would appeal to me. I don’t connect to Hollywood of today and I don’t know the new generation of actors,” Arness said.

James Arness Loved Playing in Westerns

The actors of James Arness’ era were John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and James Stewart. Much like Arness himself, they played rugged cowboys or soldiers, known for their square jaw and grit. The industry changed a lot during the 1970s. For one, “Gunsmoke” came to an unceremonious end after 20 years on the air. Arness later got to revisit Matt Dillon in a series of TV movies.

Since he played a cowboy for the better part of his career, Arness confessed that he felt natural wearing a cowboy hat and boots.

I don’t think that simply putting on a suit and tie is necessarily going to be good for me,” he told the New York Times. “I don’t mind being typecast. It’s certainly the area that I’ve been right for. I look around at so much of the stuff that’s being done, in theatrical features and television, and I wonder, ‘Well, gee, would I like to do that particular role?’ No, I wouldn’t want to. There isn’t that much around that’s very appealing to me, for my type of thing, what I do.”

Westerns populated Arness’s catalog along with a couple of science fiction movies as well. Arness never really cared much for other genres. The “Gunsmoke” star initially never sought out to be an actor and kind of fell into the craft. Before moving to California, Arness served in the military during World War II. He became a decorated soldier after being wounded overseas.

Arness starred in a number of films including a couple alongside John Wayne. But audiences best remember Arness for his role as Matt Dillon on the popular western series “Gunsmoke.”

Outsider.com