At age 68, screen legend Sam Shepard is willing to share
his life secrets.
The notoriously private actor, who shuns most
interviews, actually opens up in a surprising way. "Iíll
tell you the great secret that Iíve learned at this age.
Itís about staying in the present. Itís not an easy
trick. The Dalai Lama seems to do well at it ó and we
can all aspire to do what heís doing," Shepard says
during a phone interview from his Kentucky farm.
"Not many other people seem to do well at staying in the
present, and you have to remind yourself. I think the
problem is that life tries to make us not stay in whatís
happening to us right now. What Iíve learned now is that
itís very easy with age to get lost in the past or
project oneself into the future. To stay in the present
is the most difficult thing at all, but well worth it.,
if possible. Thatís the aim."
The native of north suburban Fort Sheridan is aiming for
box office with his film "Blackthorn," opening Friday.
Itís set in Bolivia, where Butch Cassidy is calling
himself James Blackthorn. Longing for one last sight of
his home, he joins forces with a young robber while
gangs and lawmen try to hunt them down.
Q: Were you a fan of the Paul Newman and Robert
Redfordís "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?"
Sam: To be honest, I thought the original movie
was something of a cartoon. I thought it was two movie
stars having a good time, to tell you the truth. It was
also very enjoyable, but Iím just not sure how evocable
of what those characters were in that version. The film
ďBlackthornĒ was true to the real legend while wrapped
up in one of the best scripts Iíve read in the last 10
Q: What surprised you about the real Butch
Sam: I did a lot of research at a library in
Archer, Texas, and found quite a bit of material about
the original gang. I donít think a lot of people know
that Butch Cassidy was actually a Mormon from Utah. He
was also a great horseman at a young age. When he was a
teenager, he didnít seem too close to his father, but he
did admire a man in town who broke horses. His name was
Butch. Thatís why he took on that nickname. At a young
age, this man was breaking wild colts and it turns out
this guy was also stealing cattle. He talked Butch into
stealing horses and cattle. Itís where he got his
beginning as an outlaw and figured out how easy it was
to make money.
Q: Many women to this day say that the
veterinarian you played in "Baby Boom" is the perfect
sensitive guy. Did you wreck things for other guys who
might be a tad less sensitive?
Sam: (Laughing) Iíve never heard that before.
Wow! I didnít know. I had so much fun doing that movie.
Every film Iíve done with Diane Keaton has been fun. We
have an extraordinary bond. Sheís this fantastic
combination of brilliance in comedy and intelligence. A
dream! I just did another film with her about a woman
who rescues a dog off the freeway and then I lose the
dog. Itís a brilliant comic script about us searching
for the dog and meeting all these whacked-out
Q: What do you remember from your days in Fort
Sam: I was born near Fort Sheridan, but we were
immediately shipped out. My mother was on the trail of
my father, who was an Air Force pilot, and eventually we
settled in California. ... Essentially, I grew up out in
the Mojave Desert near Arizona. Iím not sure I ever felt
at home anywhere but in my truck. I was never attracted
to the Hollywood buzz or the party scene. Thatís why I
spend a lot of time at my place in Kentucky these days.
Q: Youíve done so many iconic films. Do you have
Sam: I donít really have a favorite. Some of them
were great to shoot and not such great movies. Sometimes
it was the other way around. I do like "The Right Stuff"
because there are so many great actors in it and I had a
great time. The funny thing is I didnít do any of the
flying. I hate flying. Flying on a jet isnít even my cup
of tea. I have courage on horses, but Iím chickens ó
when it comes to flying.