Sam Elliott Explained Why He Was ‘Totally Flattered’ That 2017 Movie Was Written Just for Him

by Keeli Parkey

During his decades-long Hollywood career, actor Sam Elliott has given movie-goers many memorable performances. He is memorable thanks to his easily recognizable voice, his mustache, and overall cool cowboy look. But he is also a pretty great actor.

So, when the creative minds behind the 2017 film “The Hero” needed inspiration, they look to Sam Elliott. In fact, those creative minds wrote the role of the lead character for the now 76-year-old actor. Elliott talked about the film and how it felt to have a movie written just for him during an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air in January 2017.

The men behind “The Hero” were writers Bretty Haley and Marc Basch, according to IMDb. Haley also directed the film. In it, Elliott plays a movie star named Lee Hayden who has a fatal illness. And, like so many people do when that happens he looks back on how he spent his life.

Fresh Air host Dave Davies asked Sam Elliott during the interview how it felt to have such a part written just for him. Specifically, Davies wanted to know how the actor felt about some of his character’s less noble qualities.

“And I’m imagining that you get this script, and you see that you’re playing an aging actor who’s had, you know, one hit role in a cowboy movie but whose career is essentially stalled, who spends a lot of time smoking weed with his dealer,” Davies said. “I was wondering; what’s – what was your reaction when you get this news, aha, this is what Brett Haley wants me to be?”

Unsurprisingly, Sam Elliott was very happy to have a role and a script created with only him in mind.

“I was totally flattered that he and Marc would take the time to write an entire screenplay for me,” Sam Elliott said in 2017. “I’ve had a few parts written for me over the years, but I’ve never had a screenplay written for me.”

Sam Elliott Said He Understood His Character in ‘The Hero’

As far as the characteristics of the fictional Lee Hayden goes, Sam Elliott said he had both similarities and differences with the character. Even so, he did identify with Hayden.

“You know, I understand Lee Hayden. It was close to me in where I’ve been and gone with my career,” Sam Elliott said.

The was a major difference between Elliott and Hayden, however.

“He’s in a much darker world than I dwell in. I’m divorced in the film from my wife, played by my real wife, who I’ve been married to for 33 years,” Sam Elliott said. “And my daughter, Cleo, is the love of my life, and I’m on the outs with my daughter in the film. I don’t have cancer, and I don’t smoke weed all day, so… Apart from that, I get this guy, and it was very close.”