Brendan Wayne, Grandson of John Wayne Talks Cowboys and Aliens

Recently we got to speak with Brendan Wayne about his breakout performance in Cowboys and Aliens.

How did you become involved with Cowboys and Aliens and what can you tell us about the film and your character?

The Casting Director Sarah Finn, saw me in an original play I was doing in Hollywood and she called me in for an audition. About 2 months later I was called back for a “horseback riding callback” and I brought my own horse. They seemed to respect that and I think Sarah Finn and the second unit director Terry Leonard pushed for me to be a part of Cowboys and Aliens. s far as the film goes I will just say that it is a classic western with a twist. You will be taken on a journey and it will be exciting and fun. I play Deputy Charlie Lyle and I am a good, simple man who wants the best for our town and its people.

What was working with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Jon Favreau like and what were some of your fondest memories from filming?

First of all it isn’t easy to impress me because of my grandfather and the people I have been in contact with as I grew up because of John Wayne. That said I was incredibly excited to be around these giants of movie making. Harrison Ford is an actor that I waited in line for hours to be the first to see his movies. Watching him work and just learning how important the story telling was from his point of view was inspirational because he could have just mailed it in and people would still watch him. he cares deeply and is very involved. Daniel Craig was incredible. He has such an amazing presence and his ability to light up anywhere he appears is daunting. He is the perfect mixture of Cary Grant and Steve McQueen. He has grace and grit. Jon Favreau is simply a genius. He has a vision but he doesn’t just jam it on you he allows you to wear it as it would fit your character. He didn’t ever have to be the smartest guy in the room by telling you he was, he just proved it through actions every day. My fondest memories include the first days table reading. Jon had all of us sitting at a table and he had each of us introduce ourselves as if we were all equals. I am sitting there thinking Daniel Craig just got up and said his name as if he were a 7 year old boy on the first day of school. I thought that really allowed everybody to feel that we were all on the same level to some degree and we all mattered regardless of our roles size. Jon was also able to get other amazing actors like sam Rockwell, Julio Cedillo, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine and the amazing Olivia Wilde among others. I was surrounded by actors who are at the top of their craft. It was a great learning experience. Another memory was my last day of shooting and Jon said, “You really stepped up. great job.” I was very proud. He is somebody that makes you want his respect.

How did you handle working with special effects as it can be challenging for some?

I relished the obstacle of special effects because it allows you to really “act”. By that I mean you have no choice but to engage your imagination and that is how I approach all my roles. We were able to see some prototypes of the aliens so I was able to imagine what was supposed to be there in the scene.

Did you have any concerns about doing a western themed film due to your lineage as I would think you might have some mixed emotions since your grandfather is a legendary figure in the genre?

Not at all. I love westerns and I grew up on them much like most kids of my generation. I believe it is the mythology of our country and it has served as an incredibly useful tool to tell stories about many different character types. The fact that I could be part of one of if not the biggest western in years was not lost on me. My grandfather would have done this movie if he were alive today. It is that well written.

Did you have a lot of stunts to do in the film and if so, what stood out?

I did all of my own stunts in the movie. I was incredibly lucky to have Terry Leonard take me under his wing and help me do the best I could possibly do. His first movie he ever stunted on was with my grandfather and he wanted to give back to the Duke by making sure I didn’t tarnish the name by being less than I was capable. Terry is the greatest stuntman living today. he has done very stunt in film and he has done it as well as anybody. I have a few challenging stunts in the movie and I am sorry to say that I can’t elaborate because it will give story points away. I will however say that anything you see my character doing I actually did.

What can you tell the readers about the action in the film as mixing Science Fiction and a Western is a great idea?

I think the readers are going to enjoy the action because it isn’t your typical modern day Hollywood faire. We are really riding horses and jumping cactus and on real locations that hold innumerable dangers inherently. Jon really found a balance between telling a classic western movie and mashing it up with an Alien invasion. His courage and vision will keep you on the edge of your seats and leave you wanting more in the end.

What sort of research did you do for the parts and what challenges did each present?

I had just come of a western set in the same time period so I was able to use all of my previous research. I had studied the differences between present day and the history of the time and realized that these people were hard working and if they weren’t they wouldn’t survive. People relied on one another in a communal way because they all served to fill a need the town needed. Everybody had a function that helped you to survive so the sense of community was almost built in to the town. I relied on this approach to create a bond with all the characters in my own way.

What is your take on 3D becoming the new it thing for films?

I believe 3-D has a place because it is a creative way to make the audience more connected to the events that are occurring. The only drawback is simply using it as the story as opposed to enhancing the story that must be told for the audience to really enjoy the whole experience. Jon uses the aliens in this movie not as the story but as a way to propel the story without being ridiculous.

Are you a fan of Horror and Science Fiction. If so, what are some of your favorites?

I love horror and sci-fi. it is really fun to be taken to another world and watch its creation become reality. With Sci-Fi you are able to journey with the characters like a child does when he creates a character whether it be a cowboy or a superhero. I always find it easier to let go in these types of movies because they are not in my realm of experience. I love Alien. Sigourney Weaver is beyond sexy and the story was so human even though the antagonist was not. The fight amongst the crew and how to overcome the threat was delivered so well that it was incredibly effective. I grew up with the Blob and Halloween. I loved when the director was able to set me up and even though I knew the killer or antagonist was there he was still able to scare the hell out of me.

What movies have you seen recently and what do you have on your to see list?

I am the proud father of three little girls ranging from 12 years old to 19 months old so I see a lot of cartoons and anime. I can actually say that the stories that are being told to my kids are very good. Every once in awhile I get to the movies for adult audiences. I saw Black Swan and was blown away by the whole movie. The acting was superb and the story telling was the best I have seen in a long time. I was impressed with Aronofsky and Libatique’s ability to use every facet of filming to tell the story. The camera was an extension of Portman’s character and it was always effective and never gimmicky. They told an original story as well as it could have been told. I also saw Conviction and I thought Sam Rockwell’s performance was the best I saw all year. He took me to so many different places emotionally and never allowed me to rest. He should have won an Oscar.

I want to see Green Lantern and Safehouse. I love action movies and CIA type of thrillers.

What future projects do you have coming up that the readers can look forward to?

I am going to shoot a Sergio leone type western in Spain called Dollars from Hell. I am very excited to get back in the saddle. I am going to do everything in my power to get in on the Bourne Legacy. I think that series of movies is spectacular.

Looking back is there anything you wish you could change or do differently on the film and what do you wish to get from it and hope the audience will take from it?

I have nothing I would like to do differently on this film. I am proud to be a part of Jon Favreau’s vision. I hope the audience is able to enjoy the ride and see the relationships develop throughout the journey as it will only deepen the experience