Sam Elliott figured out an ingenious little trick to get work during his salad days in Hollywood using a little charm.
Elliot started in Hollywood during the studio contract days. That meant he wouldn’t necessarily audition for a role but a contract with a studio. He worked at Fox. Once he had that, he still had to hustle to finds jobs, he told Sam Elliott on The Off Camera Show in 2017.
But casting agents had hundreds, sometimes thousands of other actors, working under contract. But Elliott, a wily one, figured out a scheme.
He learned the legal department at Fox got the scripts before the casting department or directors. The lawyers were reviewing the scripts to make sure there was nothing libelous or potentially harmful. So, Elliott charmed a woman that worked there to let him see the scripts before legal passed them on.
“We have all these scripts here,” he remembers her saying. “You’re welcome to come anytime and look at them any time.”
This meant Elliott knew what movies or shows the studio was working on next and what parts they would need.
“I went and saw the script before the casting people saw them, and I would call the casting people or go down and sit in their office and wait for a minute, he recalled. “I’d say there’s a script coming with this number so and so and this is the title of it … and there’s a part in there and I really love to come read for it.
It all comes back to something his dad taught him, he said.
“It’s that work ethic,” Elliott said. “That’s one of the things my dad taught me always do — more even if it’s just a little more — always do a little more than it’s expected of you.”
Sam Elliott’s Dad Didn’t Believe He’d Make It
That desire didn’t dissuade his dad from thinking that he was making a huge mistake. And, unfortunately, his father died before his son had “made it” in Hollywood.
“My dad died thinking I was a total idiot for wanting to be an actor,” Elliott recalled. “He said, ‘You’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of having a f***ing career.’”
It was apparently a cool day in hell, as Elliott became one of the biggest actors in the business over time. It took years of hard work, but he showed that he wasn’t just a tough-looking dude with a great mustache. But he still wishes his dad could have seen his success.
“I never thought about it as trying to, having a need to prove something to him, other than that I wanted him to be proud of me,” Elliott added.