Sam Elliott has been in the acting business for over 50 years. During his long career, he has taken over 100 acting roles. His resume contains both live-action and animated productions. His filmography is so vast and varied that you can get a feel for someone just by what they know Elliott from. Over the years, he has been many things. However, for most people, he is one of the greatest cowboys of the silver screen.
There are a few things that really stand out about Sam Elliott. Firstly, his mustache rivals that of Burt Reynolds or Tom Selleck. Then, when he opens his mouth, you hear his other major trademark – his voice. Elliott’s voice sounds like gravel wrapped in silk that smokes two packs a day and drinks nothing but straight bourbon. In short, he looks and sounds the part of what we see as the quintessential cowboy.
However, Sam Elliott doesn’t think that he is known solely for his cowboy aesthetic. In fact, there are three roles that he thinks he is best-known for. Only one of those is a western. He revealed the films that he called his “Big 3” in a 2015 interview with Vulture.
Sam Elliott’s “Big 3”
In the interview with Vulture, Sam Elliott said that he thinks he is best known for three films. He calls Roadhouse, The Big Lebowski, and Tombstone his big three. However, he isn’t incredibly happy with being so well-known for those roles.
About this, Sam Elliott said, “It’s really because they repeat that sh-t all the time. None of them had great box office, and I wasn’t so good in any of them. You just can’t escape them. They keep showing up.”
Fans of those films would probably argue with Sam Elliott. All of those films have huge followings. For instance, Tombstone is one of the most popular westerns out there. It comes up so often because it’s just that good. Elliott’s turn as Virgil Earp in the film is a piece that brings the puzzle together neatly. Likewise, Patrick Swayze’s character in Roadhouse would have been lost without Elliott’s Wade Garrett. The Big Lebowski is a bona fide cult classic. There are annual conventions based around the movie. Hell, the movie even inspired its own religion. Seriously. It’s called Dudeism.
Elliott’s Lesser-Known Roles
Sam Elliott has been in many other great films, TV shows, and miniseries. Let’s take a look at three other roles where he truly shines.
One of his most popular recent roles is that of Beau Bennett in the Netflix original series The Ranch. That is Elliott’s first lead role in a comedy and he absolutely kills. Seriously, the way he works off of his on-screen sons in that show is incredible. If you weren’t familiar with him, you’d never know he wasn’t a seasoned comedic actor.
Sam Elliott even starred alongside country music legend Reba McEntire in a 1995 TV miniseries called Buffalo Girls. In that film, Reba played Annie Oakley and Elliott played Wild Bill Hickock. If you can find it, it’s a must-see.
Finally, Sam Elliott starred in a film called The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. It sounds like a trashy seventies exploitation film. However, the 2018 film is a wonderful character study that showcases Elliott’s dramatic acting chops. He plays Calvin Barr, a highly-decorated WWII veteran who assassinated Adolf Hitler. After living a comfortable retired life, he is conscripted to hunt and kill bigfoot. There are elements of science fiction, action, and alternative historical fiction. But, Elliott’s emotional performance makes the film great. If you want to see his range, check this one out.