Sam Elliott: 5 Decades of Being the Film Embodiment of the American West

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Sam Elliott turned 73 on August 9, and the man that’s been making unforgettable westerns for 50 years continues to impress a new generation in his role on “The Ranch.” Starting his career as an extra in “The Way West” with Kirk Douglas, and in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” as Card Player #2, Elliott has had a number of memorable roles that since followed, not the least of which was Virgil Earp in the movie “Tombstone,” as well as voice-overs for Coors and Dodge Ram commercials. It just seems to come naturally to him, and the truth is, it may run in his blood. He has identified having a western heritage, specifically from the state of Texas, citing a relation who was in the Battle of the Alamo.

Having been a huge fan of his work, in an interview with Cowboys & Indians, actor Ashton Kutcher said, “I’ve been a huge fan of Sam Elliott — one of my all-time favorite movies is Tombstone. He’s basically been this kind of brilliant, gruff guy [onscreen]. You watch him in a western, and you totally believe he is that guy.” One of the co-stars and producer of “The Ranch,” a western comedy series available on Netflix, Kutcher and co-writer and star, Danny Masterson agreed that Elliott was the best fit for their series. “We basically wrote the character for Sam Elliott, thinking we would find some version of him,” said Masterson, “And then Sam said he would do it, so we were shocked.”

Shared on the Netflix YouTube Channel, the official trailer for “The Ranch” gave viewers a small taste of what was to come, without revealing all plot lines. Reprising a western-ish role that we’re used to seeing Elliott master, the episodes, writing, and supporting cast have a mix and appeal, coupled with a sense of humor, which keeps viewers coming back. Revolving around character Colt Bennett (Kutcher) who is a former high school football star returning home to his family’s ranch in Colorado after 15 as a semi-pro quarterback, Beau (Elliott) plays his irritable but lovable, take-it-or-leave-it dad. Rooster (Masterson) is his older brother who has yet to leave the ranch (and most likely never will,) and Maggie (Debra Winger) is Colt’s mom, who left his father a while ago, but still maintains a relationship with him while she manages the local bar. Ranging from comedy (less schtick and more dramedy) to a little more serious territory, “The Ranch” speaks to shattered dreams, football, father-son relationships, and marital discord. It’s a good mix, and fans can relate, tuning in regularly now going into three seasons.