John Wayne's grandson, Brendan Wayne, decided to go into the family business and create a career for himself in the world of entertainment. Just like his grandpa, Brendan has appeared in a few westerns but is also a talented stunt double. While living up to the legacy of The Duke, one of the most iconic western stars of all time, is quite a burden, Brendan has managed to pave his own path.
Originally born Daniel Brendan La Cava, the son of John Wayne's daughter Toni, Brendan decided to take on the last name of Wayne as he started making a name for himself in Hollywood. He started off his career with landing roles in various TV shows like Angel, CSI, S.W.A.T, and Cold Case, before appearing in the remake of his grandfather's film Angel and the Bad Man with Lou Diamond Phillips. He's since appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The Mentalist, Sons of Anarchy, and more.
Following in the family tradition of westerns, Brendan also appeared in the sci-fi western Cowboys & Aliens with incredible co-stars including Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Keith Carradine, and Sam Rockwell. He told Hollywood Chicago that when he was first on set it appeared that no one was talking to him and no one even mentioned his grandfather. So he sat down next to producer Denis Stewart and casually said 'my grandfather would sure like this town.'
"And he looked at me and said, 'you brought it up, we made a deal not to talk about your grandfather because you're probably sick of it.' And I looked at him and said, 'why on God's green earth would I be sick of talking about my grandfather?' I don't have any ego about that. I've seen how far he reaches and how many people he touches in a positive way."
Lately, Brendan has a significant role in a western of his own. A space western, that is. Wayne is a body double for Pedro Pascal on the hit Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian, which follows a lone bounty hunter who cares for the powerful (and adorable) Grogu, otherwise known (though not officially) as "Baby Yoda."
Wayne has said that playing Pascal's double on the popular series has been a dream come true since he grew up loving Star Wars.
"My agent said, 'You won't be the voice,' and I said, 'I don't care. What am I doing though? I do not want to sit around. Get me going — let me run into a wall, whatever you want. Throw me from a building — totally fine. You know, hurt me, but don't make me sit around all day,'" he told Vulture.
Pascal praised Wayne, along with fellow body double Lateef Crowder, during a 2022 interview with EW, referring to them as Grogu's "other two daddies."
It's been a collaborative process from the beginning," Pascal said. "I was given the opportunity to establish physical specificity in some ways at the start of the show, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't observing and picking up from what they're doing and handing over so much of it as well. They do the heavy lifting."
In addition to his own Star Wars fandom, Brendan's role in the franchise is truly a full circle moment. His famous grandfather's voice played a small role in creating the voice of Garindan, the Imperial Spy from Episode IV: A New Hope.
"I always wanted to do an insect man - we didn't really have an insect man come along until Poggle the Lesser [from prequel Episodes II and III]," said sound designer Ben Burtt in 2007 to the StarWars.com blog. "We had that character that looked kind of like a mosquito from the first Star Wars [Garindan] that we found we needed a sound for. And I was wondering back a few months ago how I did it — because I keep notes and tapes — and I discovered it was an electronic buzzing which had come off of my synthesizer that was triggered by a human voice. And I listened to it and realized it was John Wayne — I had found some loop lines in the trash from the studio that had been thrown away. So the buzzing was triggered by some dialog like 'All right, what are you doin' in this town' or something like that."
Brendan told Vanity Fair that his grandfather definitely had a soft side when asked if he was required to call him "The Duke" growing up.
"Of all the affectionate names we could've called him, all the masculine versions of "Grandfather," what do you think he preferred? He wanted to be Granddaddy. That's just amazing to me in hindsight. My dad is Dad, but my grandfather wanted to be Granddaddy."
While John Wayne is known for his memorable roles in films like True Grit, The Searchers, and Rio Bravo, in real life, he was a totally different guy when he was with his family.
"My memories of him are of being on his boat and fishing with him, which I know is a very different visual image than the rest of the world has. They think of him in the cowboy hat or the eye patch or riding a horse, and I think of him shirtless on a boat."
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