Miller Scholar, 2010-2011
Sam Shepard (November 5, 1943 – July 27, 2017), was an actor, screenwriter, director, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright for his 1979 three-act play Buried Child. Shepard’s numerous other plays have included Angel City, Curse of the Starving Class, Killer’s Head, The Mad Dog Blues, Cowboy Mouth, The Rock Garden, True West, The God of Hell, and Fool for Love. In 1970 Shepard co-wrote Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point and later won critical acclaim for his original screenplay of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas.
Shepard spent 12 months at SFI as a Miller Scholar beginning in December 2010. Shepard continued to engage with the Institute's scientists and occasionally spent time writing on SFI's Cowan Campus until his passing in 2017.
As an actor, Shepard made his film debut in Bob Dylan’s Renaldo and Clara and went on to impress critics that same year starring in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven alongside Richard Gere. His other credits include Resurrection; Raggedy Man; Frances, opposite Jessica Lange; and most notably his role in Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff, which brought him an Academy Award® nomination. Shepard then re-teamed with Lange in Country and Crimes of the Heart, and played the lead in Robert Altman’s adaptation of his play Fool for Love. Shepard’s other notable film credits include Baby Boom, Steel Magnolias, Defenseless, Thunderheart, Bright Angel, Voyager, The Pelican Brief, Snow Falling on Cedars, Hamlet, All The Pretty Horses, The Pledge, Swordfish, Black Hawk Down, The Notebook, Stealth, Bandidas, Don’t Come Knocking, The Return, and Walker Payne.
His notable television films and miniseries have included Larry McMurtry’s Streets of Laredo, Lily Dale, Purgatory, Dash and Lilly (which brought him both Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his performance as writer Dashiell Hammett), One Kill, Wild Geese, and Ruffian. Shepard also wrote and directed the features Far North and Silent Tongue. Most recently Shepard was seen in Brothers, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Natalie Portman and directed by Jim Sheridan; The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford opposite Brad Pitt; The Accidental Husband directed by Griffin Dunne; and Felon opposite Val Kilmer; Fair Game with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, directed by Doug Liman; and Inhale with Dermot Mulroney and Diane Kruger.