In 1984 Sam Elliott was just getting married to his new bride Katharine Ross. It was his first marriage, to a woman he’d fallen in love with after being cast in two movies together, years apart. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Legacy. You may recognize her from The Graduate, as Elaine Robinson, and from the Stepford Wives. She was also in The Hero, in 2017 alongside her husband again. Elliott, meanwhile, was busy starring in all sorts of movies and shows, including A Star is Born alongside Lady Gaga and The Ranch. But before that there was Mask.
While the two were Honeymooning in Hawaii, Elliott got the call to audition for Peter Bogdanovich’s Mask. He turned it down when he told his agent he wouldn’t return early for the audition. His new bride, however, returned the agent’s call and told him that he would be there. Little did he know he would be working alongside a personal favorite, Cher. What an opportunity he could have missed.
From childhood, actor Sam Elliott was raised watching Sonny and Cher with his mother. Even during the hard times like when his dad was gone, he always found joy in watching her.
“I was a Cher fan when I was still living up in Portland,” says Elliott. “My mom and I were there, and I was going to school, and my dad had died, but my mom and I used to watch The Sonny and Cher Show religiously. I’ve always had a thing for female singers, for whatever reason.”
Sam Elliott went on to get one of his biggest breaks from the film, saying of working with her he said “I loved Peter and I loved Cher. I mean, what the f—? Cher’s Cher, you know? I mean, what’s there not to love about her. She’s one of the most outrageous people I’ve ever spent time with, and she’s wonderful to work with. It just was a glorious f—ing period of time.”
Cher, of course, was already a household name in the late eighties when the film was released. She’d had her solo career rise, and reached icon status working with her husband Sonny.
Mask, however, was a turning point for all those involved. For Sam Elliott, his portrayal of biker Gar, according to the Los Angeles Times, “received nearly as much critical attention as the performances by the film’s stars, Eric Stoltz and Cher.” Setting him up to not only become a Hollywood Icon but also work with someone he never dreamed.