Who Played It Best – Reuben 'Rooster J' Cogburn (True Grit)

Who has more true grit, John Wayne or Jeff Bridges? Read on to find out!

True Grit’s Reuben ‘Rooster J’ Cogburn was created by author Charles Portis in his 1968 novel. As a ‘fearless one eyed U.S Marshall who never knew a dry day in his life’ Cogburn required some serious talent to bring him to life on the silver screen…

True Grit Jeff Bridges

John Wayne – True Grit, 1969 original

Without a question, Rooster J Cogburn was a part made for Western movie star John Wayne. Wayne’s Cogburn was a man filled with a sense of almost lazy justice and vengeance as he helped the 14 year-old Mattie Ross find the man who killed her father. However, Wayne cut a lonely figure in Cogburn as well as making him a little unlikeable and a bit of a sourpuss. Though 61 years-old at the time of filming, Wayne demonstrates the elusive ‘true grit’ that his character was said to possess and won himself an Oscar for pouring a true sense of magic into the role.

Jeff Bridges – True Grit, 2010 Coen Brothers adaptation

Taking a break from ‘Dude-ism’, Bridges heads out to the wild west to play the one-eyed loveable rogue Cogburn. As much as Bridges attempted a more edgier and wild version of Cogburn (this Cogburn had one ARM as well as one eye – how about that?) which rightfully earned him an Oscar nomination, Bridges’ version just did not seem as dark or as convincing as the actually old-and-weathered Wayne.

The Verdict: Wayne plays the part of a damaged man frighteningly well. We think the fact we’ve seen Bridges as a slacker in The Big Lebowski takes the edge off and lets us imagine Cogburn as a big cuddly bear underneath all the grit and unfortunate flesh wounds.

Discussion feed

Up next in movies