Besides his mustache, Sam Elliott’s voice may be his most iconic quality. But believe it or not, an acting rep once told him to drop the accent.
Elliott’s voice ranks up there with Morgan Freeman or James Earle Jones. It’s instantly recognizable and distinctively Elliot that it’s taken on star power of its own. But an acting rep once told a young Elliott that he would never make it out in Hollywood if he didn’t change his voice.
“When I was looking for an agent, I went and met with this guy,” Elliott told CNN. “They had a portfolio full of photographs and he was thumbing through these photographs and he closed the book and slid the book back over to me and said, ‘If I was you, I’d go back to Portland, Oregon. and if you’re going to stay in this town, you should take some voice and diction lessons and learn how to talk and get rid of that dialect.’”
But fortunately for Elliott and fans, the actor decided to stick with his gut. He was proud of his accent and soon it became a defining feature. Besides acting, Elliott has become known for his voice acting work as well. For instance, he’s the voice behind several ad campaigns such as RAM trucks.
Sam Elliott Takes After His Mom
So where did his distinctive voice come from? Elliott said he takes after his mother’s side of the family. Though he was born in California, Elliott considers himself a Texan due to his heritage. He also grew up in Oklahoma so he has several different vocal influences.
“I think I grew up thinking about my voice as kind of funny. Because it had this Southwest dialect to it. I sounded very much like my mom in terms of the dialect,” Elliott said. “I knew that through this years, particularly as I grew older, that I developed this different sound. So I guess I knew at some point before I got into the business that my voice was going to be part of it.”
Wherever that acting rep is now, he has to admit he was wrong. Because after 50 years, Elliott hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s been a staple in the industry. His voice even helped him land roles like in “The Big Lebowski” and others. More recently, Elliott lent a supporting role in the film “A Star is Born.”