Brendan Wayne is an awesome guy. Funny, engaging, and a guy you’d want to have a beer with after a long day of shooting. His latest film, Angel and the Badman, is a remake of the 1947 film of the same name starring his grandfather John Wayne.
In this new version, Brendan Wayne plays Randy, Quirt Evans’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) friend and former sidekick. I sat down with Brendan at the Hallmark Channel building to find out more about the film and his experiences making the picture.
SWL: How did you first get involved with the project?
Brendan Wayne: My agent and my manager they knew the Nasser Brothers who were producing this, and they found out that they were doing Angel and the Badman. And they were like, this is a no-brainer, you need to get in on this. I guess it what was somewhat down the road for it. They had already had pre-production going on for a while, and I’m almost positive that they had cast my role out of Canada, initially.
But either way, they let me know that my grandfather’s movie was being remade and asked me if I wanted to take a look at it, and I said sure. So I went and met with the [Nasser Brothers], and it was great. It was a good meeting; it wasn’t an audition of any kind, other than a meet and greet. By the time we walked out of the room, they were like “We need to find a space. I think Randy would be great for you.” And, I was familiar with the movie, I had seen it a few times, and I told them to give me a call and let me know. When I got home I went: “I don’t know if I want to do a John Wayne movie.” It’s enough I ride the coattails the way I do, but in this case I’m trying to put his jacket on, somewhat.
So, I went to my family and I talked to them. I have five brothers and two sisters, and my Uncle Patrick [Wayne]. He knows. He was a successful actor and entertainer, the shadow [of his brother John Wayne] was much more direct and looming, but he made his own name. It was hard enough for me to stay with the Wayne name, I was going to go outside of that. So, I talked to him, and there was some reticence, I was nervous. And the other thing was I didn’t want to make a John Wayne movie that sucks. I figured I would give it some thought and see what’s going on.
It was four days before I went up there [to Canada, that I signed on], they were already filming. But they worked it out so I got up there, did the whole deal, and that was fantastic. I got to go up to Vancouver and go to a Western town. There’s a guy who ran our stunts, his name is Danny Virtue, and he’s just unreal. His horses are the best trained animals I have ever been around.
It was great. We got to set, I was nervous as hell. Even with the choice of going, I was still like, okay don’t suck. Then you get up there, you get up on set and you see Lou Diamond Phillips and Deborah Kara Unger, she rode over with me; she was so comfortable and confident that it really helped. Lou was so gregarious, and I really enjoyed his company; and all that nervous energy dissipated and immediately went to, “Let’s just go have fun.” I get to go be a cowboy. This is why I got into acting. I didn’t get in to win an Oscar, those things don’t hold the value as much as the value of the experience of what you’re doing.
I’m a big fan of the Western, not just because of [John Wayne] but because I look at our country and I think every empire, and I will use the word empire in reference to us, they all have a mythology. The Egyptians did, the Romans did, the Greeks, all of them. I just can’t help but think that ours is the cowboy, and we’ve gotten away from it, and the idea of what the cowboy represented; the idea that they’re tough, and self-made, and they take care of themselves. And then there are moments where they have to do something for the greater good, and it seems like in the stories that are told they do. In spite of whatever their history is, and I think Quirt in this movie Angel and the Badman is definitely one of those guys. And they’re not so closed-minded that they can’t learn.
A lot of the ideas about cowboys are that they’re tough and stubborn, but if you watch these movies you’ll see that they’re tough and stubborn but intelligent enough to learn. And they all do, and my grandfather’s characters did real well, and Randy actually, my character, he actually takes on a little bit more and is really interested; and he’s kind of a live wire, but he’s still got a great kind of path that he follows.
It was great. I got to attack the script in a certain way, and I got to watch these guys work, and I got to do a barroom brawl that was off the charts!
SWL: Did you do your own stunts for that?
BW: I did. In fact right up until the end. They had a stunt double ready, this guy Brent, he was absolutely fantastic. Amazing physical specimen, the guy could kick over my head, it was really amazing. And Danny [Virture] was like, I’ve got a guy who can do this for you. I just need you to get up out of your chair. And I was like, You know what? Let’s do this. Let me get into this. My grandfather started the way we fight on screen now. He and several other stuntmen really worked it out so the cameras could catch it, it would look real, and fantastic. So I thought it would go with the legacy that I’m following.
And I got to do it. I flipped this guy over; these guys are great. I see why my grandfather made friends with stuntmen. These guys are as present as you can be, and they are as fun as all get out. A couple of us went out afterwards, and had a few drinks, and they are just funnier than heck. So, I tend to make friends with the stuntmen, and I did here, and then we did the barroom brawl, and there’s a point where I get tossed out. It was snowing, and it was freezing out there, and the road was hard!
SWL: Were you actually thrown out of the saloon and onto the ground?
BW: Not the tumble. At first Danny was like, This is what I need you to do. You’re gonna come flying out of [the saloon], and we’ll get you in a gater, which is protective gear. And I was like, okay. Then he said, I gonna have Brent do it real quick. And he throws him out the door, and this kid hits the stairs, rolls, lands on his back. I looked over at Danny and he saved me from saying it, he said, Yeah, we’ll just have [Brent] do it. I don’t want you to get hurt for your other scenes. These guys are just amazing. We had a great time.
SWL: How many days were you on set?
BW: I was on set for five days, and I was up [in Vancouver] for about twelve. It was great. We had a great time. Lou’s singing half the time, the other half he’s talking or telling a story. You could see the group was working together. It’s nice to be on a movie where it’s not anonymous, where everybody’s involved. This was a lot more young people, everyone working together and doing stuff. It wasn’t an independent, but it sure had the atmosphere of being one.
SWL: Any positive/negative experiences making the movie?
BW: You know, it’s funny. The only things I have are positive experiences. Maybe because it was quick and everyone was getting it done. As an actor you want to be around actors who are better than you so you can raise your level, and Deborah and Lou were those people for me. It was nice to have some professionals who really had the story in mind, and telling a story. It was great to hand around Lou and watch him.
We talked about, first thing, and I knew this from the get go, don’t ever tell a stuntman that you know how to ride a horse. Because the first thing they ask, especially on a Western, is if you’re good on a horse. And I’ve been riding for my life, and I think I’m quite functional on a horse. You always play dumb, because the second you say you’re good, they go and find the worst nag in the bunch and they put you on it. And they know; and you get out there and this horse bucks or won’t move. But that was the great thing about Danny’s horses.
My greatest moments, now that I think about it, were off the set with these guys. I went with Danny Virtue, we went out and checked out his horses. He’s got an indoor arena for his horses to train, and he has this round piece of wood and he’s got his horse and he tells the horse, Hit your mark. The horse goes over and puts its front two hooves right on that piece of wood. It was amazing. Then he would raise his hand and the horse would rear up. These guys were great. They wanted to share, they wanted to create, and they wanted to have a good time.
Between Danny Virtue, and Lou, and Deborah, we had a fantastic time.
SWL: What was your take on the character of Randy? He comes across as comic relief at times.
BW: Oh, he is. He’s a goofy guy. I patterned him after one of my favorite characters, which was Kevin Costner in Silverado. That character had so much life and so much fun, and Costner just nailed him. He was just great. I didn’t want to make him too complicated. I didn’t want to get the ego of the actor in the way. I just wanted to have fun.
This is what I thought: I have a ten-year-old girl and I wanted her to say, Dad. You’re so goofy! At the end of the day that’s what I was shooting for.
Angel and the Badman premieres Sunday, July 5 at 9/8c on the Hallmark Channel. Click here for my review.