‘1883’ Star Sam Elliott’s Reason Why He Turned Down Major Roles Throughout Career

by Michael Freeman

Though “1883” star Sam Elliott has a storied acting career, you may be surprised to learn how many roles he’s passed on. The Los Angeles Times interviewed him about roles he turned down, as well as other subjects.

The interview, conducted in 2016, begins by mentioning though Elliott is more than 70 years old, he’s busier than ever. When asked about how he manages to land so many roles, he responded it’s about the effort, not the money.

“I like to think some of it has to do with the choices I’ve made over the long haul and the way I have exposed myself in the long haul. I never worked for the money. I’ve never been driven by it. It’s always been about the part or the project or the people.”

Since Elliott made it clear the money isn’t his primary concern, it stands to reason he’d be offered quite a few roles over the years. However, that also means he may not have accepted them all. Elliott answered he actually didn’t refuse too many parts.

“I didn’t turn a lot down, but there were things I turned down much to my agents’ chagrin. I’ve always been kind of very opinionated about how I wanted to do my job or conduct my career I think to a fault, probably. I think being honest and opinionated is interpreted as being problematic to other people.”

This isn’t the first time he’s mentioned his opinion nearly getting him into trouble. For instance, he heavily criticized “Lifeguard’s” marketing, which could have jeopardized his career.

Sam Elliott About Acting Inspirations

Sam Elliott serves as an inspiration to many who want to act, but who or what inspired him? In the same interview, he talked about what motivated him growing up.

“I’ve wanted to do this since when I was a little kid. There were lots [of inspirations]. I used to go to the Saturday matinee every Saturday.”

One of those inspirations was John Wayne. Considering how many westerns Elliott starred in over the past few decades, it’s no surprise Sam idolized the legendary actor.

“Yes. ‘The Searchers,’ films like that.… ‘The Quiet Man.’ I was going to the [movie] theater and having that experience and thinking, ‘wow, that’s incredible.’ Then later on in high school I was always in plays. I was always in the choir, always in vocal ensembles. My mom dragged me to sing in the church choir — the Congregational church — when I was like 5 years old. That’s where it began.”

Along with his own inspirations, Elliott also disclosed being delighted when working with his wife. Katharine Ross will additionally star in “1883” alongside him. Noting working with her brings “a whole different kind of energy” to the table, he seems excited for his new role and hers.