Sam Elliott Revealed Johnny Cash and One Other Artist Make His ‘Eyes Go Misty’

by Robert Davis
(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts Inc.)

“You can hear the whole world in certain voices,” actor Sam Elliott said about the music of Johnny Cash and Ray Charles, two artists he said make his “eyes go misty,” in an interview with AARP.

“I don’t often break down and boohoo, but I’ll shed a tear at the drop of a hat. Something will just move me,” Elliott added.

Elliott’s admission may come as a surprise to some fans, especially those who have followed his career since early on. IMDB said Elliott is “the classic picture of the American cowboy.” His hardened expression and deep voice made him a perfect candidate for a character actor in early Westerns.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, Elliott appeared in films like Aspen and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Recently, Elliott played The Marlboro Man in Thank You For Smoking and co-starred alongside Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born.

Alongside Tom Selleck, Elliott says he was one of the first actors of his generation to carry facial hair. Elliott’s macho mustache is now as recognizable as the characters he plays.

Sam Elliott’s Crossover with Ray Charles

While Elliott and Charles practiced their arts over two different mediums, the two share a lot of creative commonalities.

At an early age, Elliott had to overcome the disapproval of his family to chase his dreams of becoming an actor. Elliot recounted how his father once told him that he didn’t have a “snowball’s chance in hell” to make it. Elliott told the Oregon Register-Dispatch in 2018 that his father Nelson saw just two plays of his before he passed away.

Still, Elliott persevered. He told AARP that he thinks his dad would be “proud that his kid became the actor I did.

Similarly, Charles overcame glaucoma to become one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Charles was also raised by a blue-collar family and lost his most influential parent when he was young, too.

Recognizable Voices

Maybe the most noticeable overlap between Ray Charles and Sam Elliott is their distinct voices.

Until his death in 2004, fans could hear Charles croon in songs like I Can’t Stop Loving You and his masterpiece Georgia on My Mind. His distinct combination of rasp and nasal articulation set him apart from other artists of the time.

Elliott told AARP that he gets recognized for his voice before anything else.

“It’s always gotten attention. In choruses at church and school, I started as a tenor, moved to a baritone and finally became a bass. I knew then that my voice would be my instrument. Now if I want to hide, I just keep my mouth shut,” Elliott said.