Sam Shepard is a playwright, actor, director, musician and perhaps the biggest Badass you've never heard of. Let's just start at the beginning.During his formative years, Shepard worked on a ranch in his hometown. Blue collar themes would figure heavily into his later work, and his genuine cowboy credentials figure heavily into his badass status.His first brush with the mainstream came once he moved to New York City during the mid-sixties, when he served as the drummer for the highly eccentric psychedelic folk band Holy Modal Rounders around the time of their third album. The Rounders subsequently appeared in one of Shepard's early plays.Drumming for a reasonably successful rock band is a career in and of itself for most, but for Shepard, this was barely a hobby. He was highly involved in New York City's off-off-Broadway theatre scene in the 60s and early 70s. His best known plays came during the late 70s and early 80s, at which time he had relocated to San Francisco. Some of his most notable works of the period are Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child (for which Shepard won a Pulitzer) and True West. At the same time, he was collaborating with no less than Bob Dylan, helping him with his film Renaldo and Clara and co-writing Dylan's song "Brownsville Girl."His plays are just as awesome as he is. Falling somewhere between Absurdism and Post Modernism, plays by Sam Shepard tend to be darkly funny and somewhat menacing. (Just read a synopsis of Tooth of Crime or Buried Child some time.) Also, if a play doesn't deconstruct the American Dream at some point, he probably didn't write it.Did we mention that he's also an actor? He claims to act simply to fund his playwriting career, but if you've ever seen one of his films, you know that he is a damn fine actor for someone who only really dabbles. He was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff. (Think about that — Chuck freakin' Yeager. And he nailed it.) You may also recognize him from Black Hawk Down, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, or any number of other bit character roles he's taken over the years. (His choices in this regard seem to defy categorization — e.g., he was Dolly Parton's husband in Steel Magnolias, like maybe tenth or eleventh in the cast of characters. But that's Sam for ya.)And of course that's just his professional life; the company he keeps privately is no less awesome. When Shepard first moved to New York, he lived with Charles Mingus Jr. (yes, the son of that Charles Mingus). He was briefly involved with Punk Rock legend Patti Smith before shacking up with Jessica Lange (they're still together). The level of talent his productions currently attract is also very high, with a recent play starring Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, and Cheech Marin.To recap: cowboy, psychedelic rock drummer, playwright extraordinaire, actor (when he feels like it) and lives with one of the most beautiful actresses, ever.To recap more succintly: Badass.
Works by Sam Shepard include:
Films featuring Sam Shepard include:
Tropes invoked by Sam Shepard: