Sam Elliott Revealed Why Watching One of His Films ‘Killed’ Him: ‘I Wept Through Half the Thing’

by John Jamison

When a movie makes an audience cry, well, the filmmakers consider that a job well done. So what does it mean when one of the cast members cries during half the film? The same rule applies. And the image of iconic actor Sam Elliott weeping is heartbreaking in and of itself. But that’s what watching the 2018 film “A Star is Born” did to him.

The recent “A Star Is Born” draws on more than 60 years of history for those unfamiliar with the movie. Some may remember the 1976 interpretation, which starred Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. And while the four total versions are very different from each other, they all start from the same place. They each begin with a star who is suffering from alcohol addiction.

In the most recent case, Bradley Cooper plays that role. Sam Elliot plays his much older brother and manager. The relationship between them is one of many complex emotional parts of the movie. Sam Elliott’s character never made it in music, but his little brother did. That becomes a source of conflict. And it’s just a minor subplot to a much darker and emotional main storyline.

In the end, the film was beautifully acted. Lady Gaga was nominated for an Oscar, and deservedly so. But the result of all this talent was a beautifully sad final product. And everything together brought Sam Elliott to tears.

“I saw it in Toronto, months and months later, and I wept through half the thing,” Elliott told Vanity Fair in 2019. “It just killed me. It killed me for a number of reasons. One was I was there in the film, and clearly there. But the music killed me. Every song. The relationship between the two of them, the addiction thing. I just thought, ‘Jesus Christ, what a film.'” 

Sam Elliott Himself Was Nominated for an Academy Award

The first cut of “A Star Is Born” did not blow Sam Elliott away. In fact, it left him wondering if he’d even factor into the movie at all.

But the relatively small role of Bobby, Jackson Maine’s older brother, landed Elliott his first Oscar nomination in 2019 after a career spanning 50 years. And of all the roles he’s played during that time, the recognition he received for this one was perhaps the most surprising. In the beginning, he had no idea what he was getting into.

“Going into it, it was such an unknown thing. I didn’t know any of the players,” Sam Elliott told Vanity Fair. “I had never met Bradley before. We connected immediately. We had dinner and we talked about family, we talked about our moms, we talked about a lot of stuff and he told me about this vision that he had.”