‘The Big Lebowski’ star Sam Elliott on classic: ‘Jeff Bridges is the Dude and the Dude abides’

Sam Elliott is a straight shooter. It sounds cliched to say it about an actor who is best known for …

Sam Elliott is a straight shooter. It sounds cliched to say it about an actor who is best known for playing cowboys and other Western types, but spend a few minutes chatting with him and it’s clear that the man has no time for the usual publicity games.

The 70-year-old veteran stars alongside Blythe Danner in “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” a film about a widow who finds her carefully manicured life disrupted by romance with Elliott’s Bill.

When Elliott spoke to amNewYork, he had a lot to say about ageism in Hollywood and more.

Why doesn’t Hollywood make more movies for older people?
That’s a question I can only speculate. The speculative part of it would be that I think Hollywood thinks most of their target audience is younger people. … In the past several years, there’s been all this dialogue about demographics. They never talked about it in the old days. But it became the thing.

So what’s it all about?
It’s that whole preoccupation with youth. Especially for women. When they reach past the age of 10, then they’re too [expletive] old for anything, it seems sometimes. I say that cynically, of course. It’s just the nature of the beast. I’m married to a female actress. Nobody’s coming to ask Katharine [Ross, the star of “The Graduate”] to work these days.

Obviously, anyone would want to work with Blythe Danner and you must have found the story of older people appealing. What else drew you to this?
It just rang so true and so honest and was such a likable character for me to have the opportunity to play, instead of these character parts that I’ve been playing for the last several years, the few and far between character parts, all of a sudden here’s this leading man character again. What a joy.

You will be forever remembered as The Stranger in “The Big Lebowski.”
It’s hard for me to explain what that thing has turned into. These festivals that go on every year. People, they come to these festivals dressed as their favorite characters, in bathrobes. … [In Portland, Oregon],This mob of people get together on one side of town and they come to this thing in bathrobes. They sit around and get sloshed on White Russians. And then at midnight, they walk down the avenue to this theater and sit there for a midnight screening of the movie. It’s like, “Wow.” I don’t know.It’s a testament to a great piece of material and brilliant casting. Jeff Bridges, like it or not, believe it or not, Jeff Bridges is the dude, you know, and the dude abides.

Robert Levin