Recently celebrating his 77th birthday, Sam Elliott seems to be in the prime of his life. Revealed to star in the “Yellowstone” prequel “1883,” passionate interest in Elliott seems to have reignited, though he feels he is a bit too old to be a sex symbol.
In an interview with the Washington Post, it was mentioned the 1976 movie “Lifeguard” made Elliott into a sex symbol. When asked if his surging popularity could lead to him being one again at his current age, he responded “It’s a little late for that.”
Elliott expands on his answer, stating, “That’s not where I’m thinking I am in this day and age, for sure. But, yeah, I guess I can cop to it. It’s genetics, I guess. In “Lifeguard,” I’m running around in a Speedo for a lot of the movie.”
Within the same interview, he opens up about how Hollywood typically treats older actors when asked about ageism.
“It’s a terrible thing that Hollywood does with older actors, I think, particularly women. It’s always kind of mystified me that older people get short shrift — older people in general, whatever their field is. The way I look at it is, the older guy is the one that has the knowledge, the experience, something to pass on, something to teach. We put that aside for younger, more beautiful models.”
Hollywood may seem to have a bias against older actors, but at least it appears fans don’t.
‘Lifeguard’ Launching Sam Elliott’s Career
Though you may associate Sam Elliott with his western film appearances, his breakthrough actually happened with “Lifeguard” in 1976.
He previously starred in several shows and movies in supporting roles, but “Lifeguard” marked the first time he took the lead. Elliott played Rick, a 32-year-old lifeguard at a California beach. After attending a fifteen-year high school reunion, Rick reflects on his life choices and wonders if he needs to make a change.
The premise seems simple enough, but as Elliott so eloquently puts it, it drew attention because of his beach attire.
It didn’t help the marketing for the movie called it “every girl’s summer dream,” with marketing materials using screenshots of Elliott in his Speedo. He lamented this, stating every interview began with the interviewer being surprised about the film’s content.
“Man, when somebody said that, it just made me start sharing what I thought about the way Paramount was promoting the film.”
Looking back, Elliot admits he could have seriously jeopardized his career when criticizing the studio. However, he also states he has never been one to mince words.
Regardless of the film’s quality and its marketing, other directors took note of Elliott’s passion. His career may have started on beaches, but it led to him becoming one of the most prominent western actors of all time.