A Complete Guide to Sam Elliott’s Movies and TV Shows

A Complete Guide to Sam Elliott’s Movies and TV Shows

“Sometimes I think I’m really not very good at this acting thing, and other times I think I’m the best thing there ever was.”

That’s how Sam Elliott, one of the most recognizable and respected actors in Hollywood, modestly described his craft in an interview with Esquire.

With his deep voice, distinctive mustache, and rugged charm, Sam Elliott has been captivating audiences for over five decades, playing memorable roles in various genres, but especially in Westerns.

In this article, we’ll explore his diverse filmography and highlight some of the genres and themes that define his career.

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Explore the diverse and iconic filmography of Sam Elliott, the cowboy who conquered Hollywood, in this article on Sam Elliott movies and TV shows. (Source: Shutterstock)

From Bit Parts to Breakthrough Roles

Sam Elliott’s love for Westerns began when he was a child, watching cowboy movies with his father.

He pursued acting as a career and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1960s.

Sam started out with small roles in TV shows and movies, often playing cowboys or soldiers.

He got his first big break in 1969 when he was cast as Card Player #2 in the classic Western “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Although he had no dialogue, he shared the screen with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, two of his idols.

He continued to work steadily in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing in more Westerns, such as “The Sacketts,” “The Shadow Riders,” and “Tombstone,” where he played Virgil Earp, the older brother of Wyatt Earp.

He also showed his versatility, taking on roles in dramas, such as “Mask,” where he played the biker boyfriend of Cher’s character, and comedies, such as “The Big Lebowski,” where he played The Stranger, the narrator and occasional interlocutor of The Dude.

A Master of Many Genres

Sam Elliott’s filmography is impressive not only for its longevity but also for its diversity.

He has excelled in many genres, demonstrating his range and adaptability as an actor.

Here are some of the genres that he has explored and enriched with his performances.


Westerns are Sam Elliott’s signature genre, and he has played some of the most iconic characters in the history of the genre.

Sam Elliott has portrayed legendary figures, such as Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and John Wayne, as well as fictional heroes, such as Wade Garrett in “Road House,” Con Vallian in “Conagher,” and Sam Damon in “Once an Eagle.”

Sam has also starred in modern Westerns, such as “The Hi-Lo Country,” “You Know My Name,” and “The Hero,” where he plays aging cowboys who struggle to cope with the changing times.

He has brought authenticity, charisma, and depth to his Western roles, earning the respect and admiration of fans and critics alike.


Sam Elliott has also proven his skills as a dramatic actor, delivering powerful and nuanced performances in films that deal with serious and complex issues.

He has tackled themes such as war, disability, family, and romance, showing his emotional range and sensitivity.

Some of his notable dramatic roles include the following:

  • Gar in “Mask,” a compassionate and supportive partner to a woman whose son suffers from a rare facial deformity.
  • General John Buford in “Gettysburg” is a courageous and strategic leader who plays a crucial role in the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Bobby Maine in “A Star is Born” is a conflicted and caring brother to a troubled musician, played by Bradley Cooper.
  • Calvin Barr in “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot” is a World War II veteran who is haunted by his past and faces a new threat in his old age.


Sam Elliott has also shown his comedic chops, appearing in films that showcase his wit and humor.

He has often played parodies of his image, such as The Stranger in “The Big Lebowski,” a mysterious and loquacious cowboy who narrates the film and interacts with The Dude.

He has also played hilarious supporting roles, such as:

  • Mayor Tilman in “The Golden Compass,” a corrupt and cowardly politician who tries to stop the protagonist from finding the truth.
  • Ron Dunn, in “Parks and Recreation,”: a rival and friend of Ron Swanson, the libertarian and anti-government parks director.
  • Carter in “Grace and Frankie,” a charming and adventurous love interest of Grace, played by Jane Fonda.

Voice Acting

Sam Elliott’s voice is one of his most distinctive and recognizable features.

He has a deep, gravelly, and soothing voice that can convey authority, wisdom, and warmth. He has lent his voice to many animated films and shows, such as:

  • Ben the Cow in “Barnyard” is a wise and protective leader of a group of farm animals with a secret life.
  • Buster in “Marmaduke,” a laid-back and loyal dog who befriends the titular Great Dane.
  • Butch in “The Good Dinosaur,” a tough and experienced Tyrannosaurus rex who teaches the protagonist how to survive.
  • Trusty in “Lady and the Tramp,” a kind and loyal bloodhound who is a friend of Lady.

Modern Accolades and Recent Roles

Sam Elliott’s career has been enjoying a resurgence in recent years, as he has taken on roles that have earned him critical acclaim and recognition.

He has starred in popular and acclaimed TV shows, such as “Yellowstone,” where he plays Shea Brennan, a ranch hand who works for Kevin Costner’s character, and “1883,” a prequel to “Yellowstone,” where he plays James Dutton, the patriarch of the Dutton family.

He has also received his first Oscar nomination for his role as Bobby Maine in “A Star is Born,” where he delivered a heartbreaking and memorable performance.

Sam has also won several awards, such as a Critics’ Choice Award, a National Board of Review Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, for his recent work.

Legacy and Future Prospects

Sam Elliott is a legend in the film and TV industry, with a career that spans over half a century and over 100 credits.

He’s made an enduring mark with his unique appearance and voice, often seen in Westerns.

His versatility shines across genres and mediums, collaborating with top directors and actors.

Younger talents like Bradley Cooper and Tim McGraw were influenced by him, casting him in projects like “A Star is Born” and “1883.”

His authentic cowboy portrayals have revitalized the Western genre’s appeal.

Sam Elliott is not slowing down anytime soon, as he has several projects lined up for the future.

He is set to star in “The Gettysburg Address,” a documentary film about the famous speech by Abraham Lincoln, where he will play Ulysses S. Grant.

Sam is also rumored to be involved in “The Ranch: Part 9,” the final season of the Netflix comedy series, where he plays Beau Bennett, the father of Ashton Kutcher’s character.

He is also expected to reprise his role as Shea Brennan in “Yellowstone: 1883,” the spin-off series of “Yellowstone.”

Whatever he does next, we can be sure that he will continue to entertain and impress us with his unmatched acting skills.

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