There really aren’t too many Hollywood stars that share Sam Elliott’s combination of outdoors ruggedness and powerful work ethic. A person doesn’t grow up in a vacuum, and these sorts of traits don’t come out of nowhere. So we need to look at Sam’s upbringing to decode the mystery of how he got to be such a hard working tough guy. Luckily, he hasn’t exactly been reticent about how he got this way.
According to Sam, he grew up hanging out around his father and his father’s friends “who were all men’s men and outdoorsmen”. Looks like in this case it was at least as much nurture as nature to make Elliott turn out the way he did.
Wifey Knows Best
But Sam’s wife Kate proved to be the wise one in this situation. When she found out that Sam had decided against going to the screen test, she took matters into her own hands. She called his agent and informed him that Sam would be there come hell or high water. Kate’s initiative would prove to be crucial to establishing her husband as a major actor of note in mainstream big budget Hollywood movies. He not only held his own alongside Cher, who was at the peak of her career as an actress (not to mention one of the most famous singers of all time), but probably even managed to steal a few scenes.
The Los Angeles Times had the following to say about Elliott’s breakthrough performance: “His portrayal of the compassionate biker Gar has received nearly as much critical attention as the performances by the film’s stars, Eric Stoltz and Cher”.
A Cowboy’s Life
Even though Sam Elliott has had a rich and varied career playing all sorts of roles in all kinds of movies, it’s no exaggeration to say that he has been intimately linked with the Western genre almost since the beginning. His height, his rugged good looks, his outdoor upbringing have all helped mold his appeal to that most manly and tough of stereotypes.
Just a small selection of some of the more notable Western films in which he’s starred includes Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, The Hi-Lo Country, You Know My Name, and The Desperate Trail. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum honored Elliott’s career by inducting him into their Hall of Great Western Performers in 2007.
The Evolution Of Sam’s Voice
It’s no wonder Sam Elliott gets so much voiceover and narration work. His deep resonant baritone voice is very powerful. His costar from The Ranch Ashton Kutcher even said that as far as he’s concerned, Elliott ought to narrate “everything”. But if you look at some of his early roles, you’ll see that even though he always had a deep voice, it wasn’t that deep. Not like it is now.
According to Sam, “It came with age. It just kept going down the older I got”. So if you’re hoping for a job narrating Coen Brothers movies, or whatever, you have hope. Just keep getting older!
Sam’s Secret To Longevity
If you want to live a long time, you need to be picky about what you eat. And if you want longevity in an acting career, especially in Hollywood, you need to be picky about the roles you take. That has certainly been Sam Elliott’s strategy to remain popular and relevant decade after decade. He has often warned other actors and actresses that if they are willing to take any role that’s offered them they risk personal burnout and audience disinterest.
Sam has been quoted as saying, “I wanted to be an actor since I was nine years old and I figured that was only one way to ever have any longevity, and that’s to be careful about what kind of work you do”.