On Monday, Matthew McConaughey heard some bad news in a pretty public place. He was on the red carpet during a premiere for his new film, “The Dark Tower,” when an Associated Press reporter asked him for comment on actor Sam Shepard’s recent death.
“What?” McConaughey responded, clearly surprised by the news. “Sam Shepard moved on? Gosh damnit. From what?”
Shepard passed away July 27 from complications related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), a neurodegenerative condition that Shepard had mostly kept private.
Shepard and McConaughey co-starred in “Mud” in 2012, and McConaughey paid tribute to Shepard’s acting when reacting to news of his death.
“Look, I’m not going to trivialize that situation, I just heard about it for the first time,” he said, according to HuffPost. “But I always told [writer and director] Jeff Nichols this: Look, in ‘Mud,’ the whole trailer for ‘Mud’ could be Sam Shepard sitting in that green chair telling the boy about who Mud is. It would be about a two-and-a-half minute trailer, but it would have been really badass.”
“He moved on today,” McConaughey then said, sounding incredulous. “Damn, we lost one of the great ones. Great writer, great mind.”
You can watch McConaughey’s entire candid reaction in the video below:
Jeff Nichols, who wrote and directed ‘Mud,’ also spoke to the media about Shepard’s passing, calling the actor “one of the greats.” Nichols knew about Shepard’s battle with ALS, but said Shepard kept the condition under wraps because had better things to talk about with people.
“He wanted to talk about your movie, he didn’t want to waste any time talking about that,” Nichols told People. “It didn’t seem like something he was trying to hide it from people or anything like that, it felt like he just had more important things to do.”
Shepard clearly left a strong mark on those that surrounded him, and it was visible in McConaughey’s reaction to news of his death. Before moving on at the red carpet, McConaughey patted his chest, seemingly still processing the news. “Huh,” he said, before looking at the camera. “Alright, see you in the next one, Sam.”
Several other stars paid tribute to Shepard, both in interviews and online.