Sam Elliott Explained Why He ‘Didn’t Dare’ Talk to Katharine Ross on ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’

by Josh Lanier
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Sam Elliott said the first time he saw his wife, he couldn’t work up the nerve to speak to her. He could barely look at her. It would be another nine years before he got the chance again, and this time, he wasn’t going to let the chance get away again.

“My wife, Katharine Ross, and I both worked on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but I didn’t dare try to talk to her then,” he told AARP magazine. “She was the leading lady. I was a shadow on the wall, a glorified extra in a bar scene. It wasn’t until we made The Legacy [in 1978] that we actually interacted. We have a common sensibility, but we also work at being together. You work past the s–t; you don’t walk away from it. That’s how relationships last.”

Ross played the real-life Etta Place, a school teacher and lover of Sundance, who plays a central motivational role in the film. Sam Elliott plays Card Player #2, according to IMDB. If you’ve seen the movie, he’s less important to the plot.

In the legacy, things are much more even, as they are co-leads of the film. The only issue was Ross was already married, her fourth, to Gaetano Lisi. She divorced him soon after meeting Elliott.

Katharine Ross Pushes Sam Elliott to Mask

The couple was on their honeymoon when Sam Elliott’s agent called and asked him to test for the movie Mask. Elliott declined, saying he wouldn’t be able to make it home in time for the audition, but Ross was adamant. She started packing right away and got him back to Los Angeles in time for the try-out, WideOpenCountry.com said. The movie, which starred Cher, was a breakout hit for Elliott and helped propel his career and make him a superstar.

The couple has worked together several times during their career. Ross told the Los Angeles Times that she loves the creative experience of working together and carrying that work home with you.

“I think we just like making movies and having that creative experience together is the best. It’s just fun, and it’s a whole different kind of energy to go home with some you’re working with rather than go home to somebody who isn’t working. It’s a totally positive experience.”

Sam Elliott Remains Busy to This Day

The 76-year-old Sam Elliott isn’t slowing down. He recently signed on to an eight-episode MacGruber (Will Forte) series on the Peacock streaming service. The show picks up eight years after MacGruber is released from prison. And his new mission is to find his father, played by Sam Elliott, and reconnect with him.

The Academy finally nominated him for an Oscar two years ago for A Star is Born. He played Bradley Cooper’s character’s brother, who is one of the few pieces of stability in Cooper’s life. He lost to Mahershala Ali for Green Book.

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