5 of the Best Western Stars

Credit: High Plains Drifter

The western movie genre is one that’s been enjoyed for decades but, as many would admit, has not felt the same since the 70s, when the spaghetti western era ended, and the movies started to change in such a big way. The westerns of today are extremely different and more to the point, they don’t have the same feel to them that was delivered by the films that came from decades past. There are movies that come out now and then in the western genre that are actually quite enjoyable, but if one has watched the old westerns, then one will typically notice that there are certain elements that don’t always mesh the way they need to. The westerns of today can be effective, but more often than not, they come off as pale imitations that are bound to work for those who haven’t seen the earlier versions. As far as the actors go, some of them are worth watching, and others just aren’t that impressive. 

Here are 5 of the best western stars of all time. 

5. Same Elliott

The American Cowboy Chronicles: Sam Elliot on the American Cowboy

credit: Tombstone

A lot of people would agree that Sam Elliott is one of the most iconic men on this list since his voice and his appearance are cathartic in a way that brings up good memories and great performances. Like the others on this list, he’s never stuck entirely to the western genre, but his laidback and soothing nature appears to work for just about anything he’s been seen in. From Tombstone to Ghost Rider to The Ranch, he’s been one of those that people can’t get enough of since his cool, soothing voice and behavior make it easy to pay attention to him, no matter what character he plays. 

4. Kurt Russell

tombstone-kurt-russell - Hardwood and Hollywood

credit: Tombstone

It’s easy to put it plainly that Kurt Russell isn’t really known for being a western movie star since he’s done a lot more action, thriller, and drama movies than westerns. But when he took on the role of Wyatt Earp in Tombstone he took on a role that was absolutely iconic and, more to the point, helped to identify him as a western star that was accepted by a wide variety of people. All one has to do is go online and seek out a reaction movie on Tombstone to see that most people believe that Kurt is in fact one of the best western stars to come along in a long time. Again, he’s not just a western star, and probably won’t ever be considered as just a western star, but his stint in a western movie has given him the right to be called such. 

3. Lee Van Cleef

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

credit: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Every good western needs a villain, and Lee Van Cleef was one of the best since he had the look of someone that might shoot first and try to come up with the answers later on. When paired with the likes of Clint Eastwood and a few others, he was one of the best in the business and ended up becoming a legendary character that has been held up as a standard for western characters even after his passing in 1989. There are only so many individuals that can possibly take on the role of villain and be entirely convincing, and Van Cleef 

2. John Wayne

The Sons of Katie Elder': John Wayne 'Exploded in Rage' When a Photographer  Caught Him Using His Oxygen Mask

credit: The Sons of Katie Elder

Badmouthing John Wayne to an old-timer isn’t always the best idea since a lot of people that were raised on old westerns would defend John Wayne until the end. He might not have been the best person in the world off-screen, but when he was playing a part, Wayne was the kind of guy that a lot of folks looked up to since the Duke was the type of individual that go things done. He was a man’s man, a real cowboy on the screen, and no matter what people might have said about him otherwise, he was an iconic film legend that was considered to be one of the best and most influential of his time. It’s fair to say that these days he wouldn’t be as widely accepted, but back in the day, he was one of those that people simply didn’t question since his image was what made the legend possible. 

1. Clint Eastwood

This Is Where High Plains Drifter Was Actually Filmed

credit: High Plains Drifter

Clint is another actor that has gone on to do far more than westerns since his career has been defined by a lot of different movies that have come along over the years. But his time as a western star made him an icon that helped to build his current career, which has made him a legendary individual. Many have said that when the day comes that Clint Eastwood passes away, it will be the death of the last real cowboy. It’s a saying that some might not agree with, but it does carry a bit of weight to this day. 

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