LIFE AND STYLE
Q&A: Sam Shepard
'How do I relax? I'm always relaxed'
'All of the great writers whom I admire have died'
Saturday 21 June 2014 08.00 BST
Sam Shepard, 70, was born on an Illinois army base, where his father was stationed. In the 1960s, he moved to New York, where he became an award-winning playwright. He went on to have an affair with Patti Smith, and joined Bob Dylan on the road to write The Rolling Thunder Logbook. In the late 1970s, he wrote the Pulitzer prize-winning play Buried Child, and made his feature film debut in Terrence Malick's Days Of Heaven. In 1982, he starred in Frances with Jessica Lange, and they began a relationship that lasted 27 years. In 1984, he received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff and won the Palme d'Or for Paris, Texas, which he both wrote and appeared in. His recent films include Killing Them Softly, Mud, August: Osage County; his latest, Cold In July, opens next week. He has three children and lives on a ranch in Kentucky.
When were you happiest?
Before I was born.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
That's a hard one. All of the great writers whom I admire have died. I guess the most recent one would be Márquez.
Property aside, what's the most expensive thing you've bought?
What is your most treasured possession?
What makes you unhappy?
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
What is your most unappealing habit?
Picking my nose.
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
I don't attend costume parties.
What is your favourite smell?
What is your favourite word?
If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Cat or dog?
What do you owe your parents?
Have you said 'I love you' and not meant it?
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
The words I overuse are all adverbs.
What is the worst job you've done?
Cleaning horse piss. I keep my horses out in the open, but when I was working the ranches, I had to clean the stalls. It was a horrible job.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To the 1400s. Historically, I think it would be interesting – it was a transitional time, like we have now.
How do you relax?
I am always relaxed.
What is the closest you've come to death?
I was shot in the wrist when I was a kid. Deliberately. I am not telling [by whom].
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Maybe Kate Moss.
What keeps you awake at night?
Where would you most like to be right now?
Where I am – in the Florida Keys, fishing for tarpon.