Why Sam Elliott Nearly Turned Down His Iconic Role in ‘Road House’

by John Jamison

Sam Elliott is one of the most accomplished actors of our time. His smooth, baritone voice and his iconic mustache have lent themselves to countless roles over the years. One of them, that of Wade Garrett in the Patrick Swayze classic “Road House,” nearly didn’t happen. Why? Well, Elliott thought the character was too similar to one he’d played a few years prior.

Everything Sam Elliott has going for him makes him a perfect fit for cowboy-type roles. It shouldn’t come as any surprise then, that his career started out with him playing characters in Western classics. In fact, one of his first credits came as a card player in the 1969 William Goldman all-timer “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

From there, he made appearances on shows like “Lancer” and “Gunsmoke” through the 1970s. In the 1980s, however, Elliott landed a starring role on a show called “The Yellow Rose.” It was this breakthrough that set him up for the role of Gar in the 1985 movie “Mask.” This is the character that almost prevented him from becoming Wade Garrett.

According to IMDb, Sam Elliott played a mentor-type figure in “Mask,” and when he first saw Wade Garrett’s role in “Road House,” he was hesitant. But in the end, the two characters proved drastically different. And Elliott even considered Wade Garrett to be his most recognizable role.

Sam Elliott was in Awe of Patrick Swayze When He Worked with Him on ‘Road House’

Despite his untimely death, Patrick Swayze accomplished a lot during his relatively short time in Hollywood.

He was undoubtedly a generational talent, starring in titles like “Dirty Dancing,” “Red Dawn,” and “The Outsiders.” Apparently, Sam Elliott understood why when they ended up on the “Road House” set together. In the documentary “I Am Patrick Swayze,” Elliott recalled the time he worked with him.

“I remember watching Patrick and thinking, that was so good,” Elliott said.

The Iconic Actor in Recent Years

At the age of 76, Sam Elliott is still hard at work. The past few years have seen some of the legendary actor’s best roles.

Most will recognize him instantly from the reinterpreted “A Star Is Born” starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. He plays the role of Bobby, Cooper’s manager, and way older brother. As a failed musician himself, the character has a difficult relationship with Cooper’s Jackson Maine.

A year before that, Elliott starred in the title role of a neo-Western drama called “The Hero.” He plays aging Western star Lee Hayden, who has to come to terms with his imminent death.

In both cases, Elliott had opportunities to show off his serious acting chops. And he doesn’t fail to impress.