Sam Shepard, the great American playwright, actor, author, director, and screenwriter whose multiple award- winning work spans more than half a century died in his Kentucky home on July the 27th. Shepard was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, a record breaking 10 Obie Awards and New York magazine described him as “the greatest American playwright of his generation.”
Extremely handsome in his own right, it wasn’t until later in his career than Shephard tried his hand at acting (with great success). Starting out, he was wary of the celebrity lifestyle and reluctant to become a movie star, instead focusing his attention on creating plays that showcased the darker side of American family life.
His unique body of work is highly critical of American culture and in it, the idea of ‘tradition’ plays a central role. In a time of blockbusters, the Illinois-born playwright continued to focus on topics such as the failure of the American Dream and the disillusionment it brought, as well as the relationships between the past, present, and future.
Sam died at 73 years old from complications due to a motor neuron disease known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. As many mourned the death of the PEN/Laura Pels Award, including a heartfelt tribute written by his friend – musician and poet Patti Smith in The New Yorker, the news was broken to Matthew McConaughey and his genuine, heartfelt response was more than indicative of the pivotal role that Sam played in the history of modern day America.
McConaughey was on the red carpet for the premiere of the Stephen King-inspired movie Dark Tower when a journalist approached him and informed him of Sam’s death. It was immediately evident from the shocked look on the actor’s face that he was unaware of the news, but his subsequent response showed just how much he truly cared.
Holding back tears and clutching his forehead, Matthew can be seen trying to process the news. He asks the reporter: “Sam Shepard moved on?”
As the interview comes to an end, Matthew can be seen pointing to the sky while giving a thumbs up and saying, “We lost one of the great ones. Great writer, great mind. All right, see you in the next one Sam.” Click the video below to see McConaughey’s full reaction.