Brow Beat

Sam Elliott on How He Became the Modern-Day Hollywood Embodiment of the Old West

Sam Elliott in The Big Lebowski.

Publicity still © Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

From his first screen credit in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to his roles in Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, and most recently, the current and final season of Justified, Sam Elliott has come to embody Hollywood’s modern-day idea of the Old West. In Brett Haley’s I’ll See You in My Dreams, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Elliott takes on one of his all-too-rare romantic lead roles opposite Blythe Danner, who plays a widow re-learning how to navigate the dating scene.

We spoke with Elliott about the origins of his beloved cowboy persona and about how he’s learned to embrace it as an actor.

Slate Sessions video edited by Anne Marie Lindemann. Interview booked by Raquel Bruno. Executive produced by Ayana Morali.