Sam Elliott has been a major fixture in the entertainment industry for decades. Other than his mustache, Elliott’s most recognizable trait is his signature baritone voice. However, in one film, he actually had to re-shoot scenes because of his accent.
He was first known for his roles in movies like “Gettysburg,” “Tombstone,” “We Were Soldiers,” and “Hulk.” Even more recently, in the past five years or so, he has been involved with the television series “The Ranch” and “The Hero.”
He also had a role in the popular remake “A Star is Born” starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
Sam Elliott and His Accent in Film
Sam Elliott’s breakthrough role is considered to be in the drama film “Lifeguard” from 1982.
He stars alongside Anne Archer, Stephen Young, Parker Stevenson, and Kathleen Quinlan. Elliott plays Rick Carlson, a 32-year-old lifeguard who attends his 15-year high school reunion and reunites with his old girlfriend. They resume their relationship while Rick also struggles to deal with a young girl who has developed a crush on him.
At the time, Elliott stopped appearing on other TV programs. He thought this would establish him as a key figure in feature films. And the “Lifeguard” movie was a personal milestone for the iconic actor.
He said it was one movie in which the director had him redo scenes because of his distinct accent.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had problems with my voice in terms of what people have wanted out of me as an actor. But I did do a movie called Lifeguard back in 1976 with a director named Dan Petrie, who did a lot of incredible work. Every once in a while, he would tell me: ‘Let’s do it again, and this time, let’s be a little less south in the mouth.’ That’s always amused me,” Elliott told The Guardian in 2017.
An Iconic Hollywood Voice
Despite having a very distinctive voice, Elliott doesn’t feel like he’s been reduced to one role because of it.
At the end of the day, Elliott chooses roles that will bring him joy and satisfaction, rather than just acting for a paycheck.
“My security comes from the fact that I’ve never done a job for money. A certain level of security comes out of the commercial world – that allows me to turn down the dramatic stuff, or the theatrical stuff … the acting work. But I’ve always basically made my own decisions. And I think I’ve done reasonably well,” Elliott said.
Besides acting, Sam Elliott has done some work in voiceovers. He has done ads for the beef industry as well as for Coors Banquet. The way he says “beef fajitas” is truly one of a kind. His voice really is “like a fine steak.”
In an interview with Bloomberg in 2015, Sam Elliott said that he does not insure his voice like Vanna White from “Wheel of Fortune” has to insure her legs.
He credits developing his trademark voice partially to growing up singing in choirs. He didn’t realize just how iconic his voice was until he started getting paid for it.
“I think a lot of it was genetics…but it wasn’t until a long time after that until I did anything with it,” Elliott said about his voice.