Legendary actor Sam Elliot has made a career out of playing gruff, hardened characters who seemingly have no regrets about their decisions. And yet the actor is no stranger to regret himself. While he has generally lived a satisfying life, achieving his wildest dreams as an entertainer, he still finds himself regretful about certain aspects of his journey. In this video, we’re taking a look at the life and career of this long time Hollywood celeb, and why he looks back on parts of his life and wishes things were slightly different. Join Facts Verse, as we present: Sam Elliott Reveals His Biggest Regrets After All These Years
Sam Elliot’s Biggest Regret
Sam Elliot’s father was perhaps similar to the types of characters seen in the very movies Sam is famous for: A hardscrabble man who expresses disappointment at the choices his son makes. Henry Elliot worked at the Department of Fish and Game, and, according to Sam, was not easy to please. In fact, he disapproved of Sam’s career choice of acting. Reportedly Sam’s mother, who was a gym teacher at a local high school, was the one who believed in Sam’s talents in the entertainment field, and encouraged him to chase his Hollywood dreams. But his father did not. At one point, according to Elliot, Henry sat his son down and told him what he thought the chances were that Sam would be able to ‘make it’ in Hollywood. He said that Sam had a ‘snowball’s chance in hell’ and that it wasn’t worth pursuing such a futile career choice.
However, this fortunately didn’t make Sam alter his chosen path. Instead, it made him want to prove his father wrong all the more. He spent the next several years pursuing his dreams of becoming an actor, hoping not only for success, but also for a chance to show his father that he had what it took to make it big.
Sam’s Dream Is Realized
Amazingly, this scenario ended up playing out… but only part way. Sam obviously went on to become a huge name as an actor. But sadly, his father died before it happened. According to Sam, Henry died thinking he was a ‘total fucking idiot.’ Henry, who died at 54, wasn’t alive to see his son become the big name in the acting world that he soon became. And Sam says that’s one of his biggest regrets.
Though it sounds like it’s a regret that is more about proving his father wrong than about getting to share the success with him. Sam was clearly motivated and upset by his dad’s lack of confidence in him and faith in the process. So much so that he regrets not being able to prove him wrong. Sam said in an interview that his father’s attitude wasn’t even one of anger, but of disappointment. Which, to Sam, was worse. He said that he almost wishes his father had been angry at him, rather than having to constantly deal with his disappointment.
However, after many years of dealing with this disappointment, and knowing that his father never got to see how successful he became, Sam says that he’s been able to move past the most stinging aspects of it. He was quoted as saying that at this point he is probably over it. And yet, he admits to sometimes still being regretful about the whole thing. According to Sam, he occasionally thinks, “Jesus Christ, I wish he had f****** known.’
Sam Regrets Being Called a Celebrity
While it’s not nearly the same level of regret that he has when it comes to his dad never seeing him become a star, Sam also regrets the fact that he’s referred to as a celebrity. Despite having a multitude of incredible performances under his belt, and the awards and accolades that come with those, Sam wishes he wasn’t referred to as a celebrity. And yet, at the same time, he does see value in it. Clearly it’s a double edged sword for the actor. Perhaps he doesn’t like the increased scrutiny that comes with being a celebrity, or perhaps he is too humble to think of himself as better than other people. Regardless, he isn’t fond of the moniker. And yet, he does appreciate the value of it. Literally. In an interview, Sam talked about how, while he doesn’t like being referred to as a celebrity, he knows it allows him to find ways to cash in on it. He talked to Marc Maron on the WTF podcast about how he tries to find ways to get paid for the inconvenience of being a celebrity. He cited the fact that he once sold a hat that he wore in Tombstone for $15,000, saying that he doesn’t care ‘who gets what’ as long as he can get some money for his troubles.
He Regrets Not Serving in Vietnam
Sam has had a challenging internal battle when it comes to the Vietnam War. When he spoke with Marc Maron, he talked about the Vietnam War era, and how he thought about enlisting to serve. But, at the time, he also saw the anger that was being directed towards U.S. soldiers domestically. He saw footage of troops coming home from the war and being spit on, and decided that he didn’t want to be a part of that hatred. He has also said that his mother begged him not to enlist, which strongly affected his decision as well.
According to Sam, he always regretted that choice. He felt he had let the chance go to serve his country when it needed him. And he held onto that regret for years. Then, in 2002, he got the chance to star in a movie called, “We Were Soldiers.” His character was a long time veteran who served in four separate conflicts, and it allowed Sam time to really reflect upon his prior decision not to enlist. But while this process might have, at first, to make him even more regretful than he already felt, it quickly changed in the opposite direction. During filming, he had the chance to attend a ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.. While there, he was lamenting the fact that instead of enlisting in the armed forces proper during the Vietnam Era, he had been assigned to be in the National Guard. Which, of course, is an honorable service too. But Sam always regarded it as avoiding his true duty as a young, healthy American in that era.
However, while he was at the Vietnam Memorial that day, a man in a wheelchair approached him. The man had fought in the war, and had suffered the extreme consequences. He told Sam that if he could have gotten the chance, he would have much rather served in the national guard like Elliot had. He told Sam that he needed to get over his guilt about the choice. And Sam finally felt relieved of the burden of regret. He later commented that it took that man in a wheelchair telling him that it was okay for him to finally move on from his negative feelings about it.
Sam’s Regrets About Power of The Dog
Sam stirred up some controversy while on his episode of the WTF podcast when it came to the movie “Power of the Dog.” Hailed as one of the best movies of that year, Power of the Dog was a western that had homosexual undertones to it. Eliot apparently took great umbrage to it, and the fact that the director, Jane Campion, wasn’t from the United States. On the podcast he labeled the film a ‘piece of shit’ and said that the characters in it were similar to Chippendales dancers, “running around in chaps and no shirts.” This clearly angered him, as it didn’t match the traditional macho stereotype that most Westerns like to utilize. He also critiqued Campion for not filming it in the U.S., but rather in her native country, which she did because of budget issues. He said or Campion, “What the fuck does this woman from down there know about the American West?”
These comments were not received well from the general public, who saw them as not only homophobic, but xenophobic as well. Campion was asked at the DGA Awards what she thought of the comments, and she railed against Eliot. She pointed out that he was not, in fact, a cowboy, and was actually an actor. And further, she suggested that his view was a very myopic one. According to Campion, the West is a ‘mythic space’ – aka mostly for fiction – and therefore there is more than enough room for many types of stories to be told. It doesn’t only have to be the traditional macho style in the vein of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood.
To his credit, Sam felt horrible and regretful about his comments. He quickly walked them back, apologizing and asking for forgiveness from the director and those who worked on the movie. He called the movie and the actors who worked on it brilliant, calling out Benedict Cumberbatch’s stellar work in particular. Now, whether or not this apology was a work of PR or if it was sincere is up for debate. Though it should be said that his costar from Y 1883, Faith Hill, quickly came to his defense. She said that Sam’s character is unimpeachable, and that if he ever wrongs or offends anyone, he’s the first to give a heartfelt apology. So perhaps it’s mostly that Marc Maron caught him on a bad day, or he was trying to be funny, or something in that vein.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to find out that Sam Elliot has regrets about his father not seeing him thrive as an actor? What about his regret at not serving in Vietnam? Let us know in the comment section below!