Elliott: I knew her only from afar, as I know you only from afar, and I’ve loved you from afar, and I’ve loved her from afar — to see that she was just this kind of regular girl, on some level, as Stefani.
It certainly was an integral part and an important part, but not a big part. Elliott: I remember Bradley telling me, “If you trust me, you’ll be glad you did it.” Because neither one of us really knew what Bobby was gonna be.
Sam Elliott may be a cinematic icon thanks to his craggy voice and résumé of cowboy roles, but he has yet to be recognized with an Oscar nomination. That will probably change with “A Star Is Born,” which has earned Elliott some of the best reviews of his career for his portrayal of Bobby, the brother and manager of Bradley Cooper’s alcoholic superstar Jackson Maine.
Elliott: You knew that it was there, and it wasn’t there, and you never see it. Yeah, I understand.
Glenn Close: I think a great actor can fill out a small part and make it important and resonant in the film, which is something that you certainly do in “A Star Is Born.”
Close: Björn Runge, our director, trusted close-ups, and he knew how to light them, and he knew where to put the camera, so as an actor you didn’t have to worry. You knew that whatever you were doing was getting on film. I don’t know if in your experience, but certainly in mine, I’ve had terrible disappointments because —
For more, click here. Glenn Close and Sam Elliott sat down for a conversation for Variety's Actors on Actors.
Elliott: Yeah. I kinda got boxed into that, and there was a time where I thought, “Am I ever gonna be thought of as something else other than the cowboy?”
Elliott: Thank you. What attracted you to “The Wife”?
Elliott: I can only imagine.
Close: One of the images that really stays with me is the last close-up with your eyes. It’s very, very, very moving.
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Everybody just pretty much stopped. There was a moment where we all were at the Greek Theatre. We’d shot through the day, and they’d been in the sun all day. But we were there at the Greek Theatre. She was stunning to work with. Magical. The crew stopped. We’d been there a long time, where everybody was kind of restless. It just rocked the place. I wasn’t there for many of the live venues that we did. And she just came out of nowhere and sat down at the piano and started singing. Elliott: She was Stefani. There was a moment late at night. It was all her little monsters, her fan base that follows her so religiously … Now it was kind of turning cold. they were the extras in the crowd.
Close: You’ve done a lot of Westerns?
Close and Elliott discussed their respective films, their love of the Western and why even the smallest roles can pack a wallop in the right hands. She’s likely to pick up her seventh nod for “The Wife,” a drama about a woman who is the true literary force behind her Nobel Prize-winning husband. Over her distinguished career, she’s earned six Oscar nominations. Glenn Close, another Hollywood veteran, is no stranger to the awards circuit.
I’d never played a character like that before. In answering that question, I really came to a place where I understood what she’s angry about. So I went in kind of liking the idea, but I had to answer the big question that I had to answer for myself, which was why she didn’t just leave, because I was so afraid that every woman who saw it would just say, “Oh, come on. She’s basically being complicit in getting what she wants until she can’t deal with it anymore. Just leave him.” But it’s much more complex than that. I asked for a challenge, and I got one. Close: It was new territory for me.
Close: What it’s like to work with Lady Gaga?
Sam Elliott: There was this quote from I think Stanislavsky or one of those guys about how there are no small parts, only small actors. I know there’s no small parts, but was he talking about an actor’s stature or the smallness of one’s performance? I’m never sure what that meant.
Elliott: You’d fare well in that genre.
Close: Did you call her Stefani?
My sister Tina was Hopalong, but I was Lucky, and we watched “Hopalong Cassidy.” I loved him! Close: I have a big soft place in my heart for Westerns because I grew up being Hopalong Cassidy’s sidekick, Lucky. I’d give my eyetooth to be in a Western.