Veteran movie star Bruce Dern is convinced shooting John Wayne in the back in The Cowboys wrecked his film career because he became known as the man who killed The Duke.

The 77 year old was on course to join pals like Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford on Hollywood's A-list but struggled to find work after his character, Long Hair, shot Wayne's Wil Anderson in the 1972 western.

He recalls, "It was 8.30 in the morning when we did the scene, Wayne was incredibly s**tfaced (drunk) on Wild Turkey, a bottle and a half. I could smell it on him, and he leans into me and says, 'Oh, how they're gonna hate you for this'."

Dern, who is the father of actress Laura Dern, reveals Wayne was right and for years strangers would approach him in the street and say, "You killed my buddy!"

Movie fans are starting to come up to him in the street again, but this time they are full of compliments for his latest role in acclaimed new Alexander Payne movie Nebraska, in which he plays a deluded old man who believes he's won $1 million and must travel from his home in Montana to Nebraska to collect the money.

He tells Rolling Stone magazine, "You walk down the street and people come up and shake your hand. I never had this happen except for when I killed John Wayne and they they just go... 'You f**king b**tard!'"

Dern picked up the Best Actor award at France's Cannes Film Festival for his role in Nebraska and now he is a frontrunner for a top Oscar prize next year (14).