"If Matt Dillon had to shoot somebody, you'd cut around to him. You could see that he just hated to have to do that and he felt a sort of revulsion over it. That's something that hadn't really been done much up to that point."
About This Interview
In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, James Arness (1923-2011) speaks about his early years and experiences, which included serving in the army during World War II, and recalls his start in local radio in Minneapolis. He notes his break into acting in movies and lists several in which he appeared. He describes his experiences in early television including anthology series that were done "live." He then speaks in great detail about the role for which he is most known, that of "Marshal Matt Dillon" on Gunsmoke. For Gunsmoke, he talks about his initial reluctance to take the part (until convinced by John Wayne for whom he was under contract). He describes the series characters and their relationships with each other, and discusses working with the behind-the-scenes talent, including key producers and directors. He also talks about later television roles including his appearance as a regular on the late 1970s western series How the West Was Won. B-roll consists of photos from his Hollywood years (including films "The Farmer's Daughter" and "The Thing") and a still each of Arness in Gunsmoke and The McCahans. Henry Colman conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on August 16, 2002.