Sam Elliott gets the role of his long acting career in The Heroand as he told a packed audience at Deadline’s 7th annual The Contenders awards-season event last month, the biggest surprise of all for him was that he actually got to play an actor for the first time.

Deadline

In our conversation in front of AMPAS and key guild voting members at the DGA Theater, Elliott tells me that writer-director Brett Haley wrote the role for him after they worked together on I’ll See You In My Dreams, and he brilliantly dissects the character of a faded cowboy star getting his last chance at a great part.

Elliott also praises the cast which happens to include his wife Katharine Ross — his first film was in her Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but they didn’t actually meet until years later. They have since made several films together, and Elliott says even though the part was small for her on The Hero, he was thrilled she wanted to be a part of the pic, which premiered in June via The Orchard.

Check out our conversation above.