Sam Elliott Was Asked to Choose Between ‘Road House’ and ‘Tombstone’: Here’s What He Picked

by Evan Reier

Picking between two classics like Road House and Tombstone is like picking between cake and pie. It’s unnecessary. Nonetheless, Sam Elliott made his choice.

In Road House, Sam Elliott played Wade Garrett, the mentor to protagonist James Dalton. In Tombstone, he portrayed Virgil Earp, the brother of legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp.

During an interview with Business Insider in 2017, Elliott was given a hypothetical situation by the interviewer. If both Road House and Tombstone are at the same time, which would the legendary actor choose to watch?

For Sam Elliott, the answer is simple and emphatic.

“Tombstone. No doubt.”

There you have it. Understandably, the question asker than goes to Elliott to see if there was any specific reason why for that. Did he have any ill will about his work on Road House?

“Oh, none. Not at all,” Sam Elliott clarified. “If I could sit down and watch all those scenes with Patrick [Swayze] and myself I would watch Road House. But Tombstone is a different animal.”

It essentially sounds like Elliot is saying that Tombstone was simply a better all-around film. While Elliott enjoyed his legendary role as the mentor to Swayze’s lead character James Dalton, he finds Tombstone to be a complete masterpiece.

And when you look back at his other comments about the film, it’s not hard to see how he feels that way.

Sam Elliott Waxes Poetic About Tombstone

Famously, Tombstone released very close to the film Wyatt Earp, which starred Kevin Costner at the height of his popularity. In retrospect, it was never close, as Tombstone dominated the box office, while Wyatt Earp was a flop.

But at the time, there was tension between the two sides, especially on the Tombstone set. Outsider talent Josh Lanier broke down a 2019 interview that featured Sam Elliott discussing the two movies. According to Elliott, he had to calm costar Kurt Russell down about it.

“I said, ‘What the f— are you worried about, man?’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ We had this kind of contentious relationship throughout, and I think it was really born in the relationship of the brothers, and we never got past that,” Sam Elliott said. “I said, ‘They haven’t got this f—ing script. And they haven’t got this f—ing cast.’ And that was the f—ing truth, you know? ‘Apart from that, sweat all you want.’”

Elliott also added more context to his bold statement to Russell. For the longtime actor, it was as great as a cast as the movie could’ve assembled.

“But that cast, I believe, was assembled by Kevin [Jarre,]” Elliott continued. “That’s what made that take of the O.K. Corral the best of all of them, I think. F—ing Powers Boothe, you know. Billy Paxton. Kurt and Val (Kilmer). … Michael Biehn. Best f—ing thing he’s ever done. Best thing Val Kilmer’s ever done. Ever. Just mind-boggling. … Amazing cast. It just had all the elements to make a great Western.”