Charles Bronson was a big-screen action hero unlike any other. With the star appearing in such classic films as The Magnificent Seven. And the Death Wish series over the course of his career. Charles’ tough-guy image painted him as a guy who wasn’t afraid of holding a grudge. And he matched this persona in his day-to-day life. One of the men that Charles held a grudge against the most was actor James Garner. Who he appeared alongside in the classic action film The Great Escape. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Charles Bronson held his bitter grudges until the very end.
Charles Bronson and James Garner Didn’t Get Along
The 1963 action war film The Great Escape is generally considered to one of the best of it’s kind, specifically from around the time period. The film was a starring vehicle for legendary action star Steve McQueen. Though it also utilized a stunning ensemble cast of supporting characters. Besides Steve McQueen, the film also featured such notable performers as Charles Bronson and James Garner. Though neither star was one the same level of Steve McQueen at this point, they were well on their way. Sadly, Charles and James couldn’t get along on the film’s set.
Charles and James’ relationship on the set of The Great Escape was so poor that James continued telling horror stories about the production for decades. Following Charles’ death in the early 2000s. James took the opportunity to speak more about his poor relationship with the late action star than ever before in his autobiography. He’s autobiography filled with negative stories about Charles Bronson from around the time of The Great Escape’s filming. James also allegedly had some issues with Steve McQueen on the set of the film. Though he and Steve were good friends. James was eventually able to forgive Steve for his egotistical demeanor on the set of the feature.
After all, Steve McQueen was the film’s star. And it wouldn’t have been nearly the success that it ended up being without him. Steve’s egotistical demeanor on the film set merely came from the fact that the actor took the role so seriously. Meanwhile, Charles’ egotistical demeanor was a completely different story.
While Charles Bronson was no slouch in the entertainment industry around the time that he was filming his role in The Great Escape, he was no Steve McQueen. However, it seems like the actor was acting just as egotistical on the set of the film as the lead, if not even more so. Not only Charles’ egotistical demeanor uncalled for given the fact that he wasn’t the film’s star, but it also hindered the production instead of helping it. It seems that Charles’ bad attitude during the production of the film had little to do with how seriously he took the role. And had more to do with him wanting to the biggest man on the film’s set.
Charles Bronson’s Ego Was Bigger Than Steve McQueen’s
According to James Garner, his good friend Steve McQueen may have been a slight nuisance on the set of The Great Escape due to his growing ego. But he was nothing compared to the horror that was Charles Bronson. James said Charles’ belligerent behavior during filming lasted throughout the entirety of the film’s production. Still, the picture ended up being a big success. The film followed a group of solders attempting to escape from a German POW camp during World War II, and is still one of the classic today. Prior to the feature, Charles Bronson best known for his appearance in the 1960 Western film The Magnificent Seven. While James Garner best known for his work as the titular character in the hit television series Maverick.
Given that James Garner had been the star of Maverick and Charles Bronson had merely been a supporting player in a handful of notable pictures. James was arguably the bigger star between the two when it came time to film The Great Escape. This might’ve made Charles feel more defensive than he would’ve otherwise. As it made him the least experienced and least valuable member of The Great Escape’s ensemble cast. Perhaps to make up for this lack of value, Charles turned his tough-guy demeanor up to 11 while working on the film’s set. However, this didn’t help make the star very popular with his costars on the picture.
According to the late James Garner, Charles Bronson was a mean man who loved to use and abuse people. In turn, the two would grow to form a grudge against each other over the course of The Great Escape’s production the lasted for the rest of their lives. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Charles Bronson Tried to Cheat at Poker
One of the horror stories that the late James Garner shared regarding Charles Bronson involved a time around the filming of The Great Escape when the two became involved in a poker game. The poker game was taking place at James’ house shortly after the filming of the movie finished. It’s unclear why James ended up inviting Charles to his house to play poker after the negative experience of filming The Great Escape together. Though he certainly didn’t invite Charles back over to his house again! During the poker game, James claimed that Charles rudely tried to pull out one of his bets when it was already too late.
If Charles had gotten his way, it would’ve spelt disaster for another player in the game. Who was a young stagehand that was much less wealthy than the film star was. James ended up insisting that Charles play by the rules and pay out to the young man. Charles was allegedly forced to pay the young man $50. Which he rightfully owed him given the rules of the game. However, Charles was so mad that James forced him to play by the rules that he ended up exploding. The incident very nearly resulted in Charles and James getting in a fistfight.
The negative experience of filming The Great Escape, combined with this subsequent experience playing poker,.Caused James Garner to never look at Charles Bronson the same way again. Similarly, Charles held a grudge against James for the remainder of his days. Charles swore that he was never going to work with James again. And he ended up making good on the promise. However, the two did end up running into each other several years later while they were out with their respective wives. James was out with his wife Lois Clarke, while Charles was out with his wife Jill Ireland. When the two couples ran into each other, they ended up eating dinner together. Lois and Jill got along just fine and had plenty to talk about. However, James and Charles had to grit their teeth through the dinner.
Following the release of The Great Escape, Charles Bronson would go on to achieve greater fame than ever before thanks to his lead role in the 1968 Western film Once Upon a Time in the West. The film was directed by Sergio Leone, who had tried to get Charles to play the role in his Dollars Trilogy that ended up going to Clint Eastwood many years prior. Charles had turned down the role in the Spaghetti Western series. Which proved the vehicle that made Clint Eastwood a star.
When The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was filming, Sergio thought of Charles yet again. This time, Sergio tried to get Charles to play the role that ended up going to Lee Van Cleef. Finally, Sergio was able to get Charles to work with him on Once Upon a Time in the West. And the results were incredible. In the 1970s, Charles became a verified Hollywood megastar thanks to 1974’s Death Wish.
Did Charles Bronson Have a Death Wish?
1974’s Death Wish starred Charles Bronson in the role of Paul Kersey, who was a man who certainly knew how to hold a grudge. However, Paul Kersey held grudges for much better reasons than the actor who portrayed him did. Death Wish was a major success and paved the way for a franchise. Charles appeared in a total five Death Wish pictures over the course of the ensuing two decades. Ending with 1994’s Death Wish V: The Face of Death. While the original film had been a hit with critics and audiences alike, the sequels all received rather dismal reviews.
Charles Bronson’s authentic tough-guy demeanor came as a result of his troubled upbringing. Charles was one of 15 children born to a poor coalminer. And he was forced to start working in the coalmines himself at a rather young age. When it came time for Charles to start school, his family was so poor that the young child was forced to wear one of his sister’s dresses so as not to show up to class naked. This predictably resulted in Charles becoming the laughing stock of his class, which in turn hardened the boy significantly.
Charles was eventually able to leave the coalmines behind for the silver screen, and he never looked back. Charles Bronson met his aforementioned second wife Jill Ireland during the filming of The Great Escape. At the time, Jill was married to actor David McCallum, who also had a supporting role in the film. Legend has it that Charles turned to David McCallum during the picture’s filming and told him point blank that he intended to marry the man’s wife. Charles ended up stealing Jill away from the man, and Charles and Jill remained marred until Jill’s death in 1990.
Unless you had a death wish, you certainly didn’t want to get on Charles Bronson’s bad side! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Charles Bronson turned down the role of the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. And that he stole second wife Jill Ireland from one of his costars in The Great Escape? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!