Sam Shepard is a 68-year-old screen legend with a few life secrets to share.
"I'll tell you the great secret that I've learned at this age. It's about staying in the present. It's not an easy trick. The Dalai Lama seems to do well at it – and we can all aspire to do what he's doing!"
"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 what's happening to us right now. What I've learned now is that it's 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. "That's the aim," says the star of classic films including "The Right Stuff" and "Baby Boom."
He calls while looking over his land on his Kentucky farm on a cool weekday morning. Sam dismisses the idea that age brings extra smarts.
"I certainly don't feel wiser with age," he says with a warm laugh. "But I do know a few things including that you have to keep working to keep your mind sharp." In fact, Sam shared with us a few extra tips concerning aging in What Do You Know Now.
These days he plays James Blackthorn (Butch Cassidy) in "Blackthorn," a movie that sets the legend straight. He teams up with a young robber and has to elude other gangs and the law.
Sam says it's a far cry from the Paul Newman-Robert Redford film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
"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 I'm just not sure how evocable of what those characters were in that version," he says. "The film 'Blackthorn' was true to the real legend while wrapped up in one of the best scripts I've read in the last ten years."
HIS NEW MOVIE
"I don't think a lot of people know that when Butch was a teenager, he didn't seem too close to his father, but he did admire a man in town who broke horses.
"His name was Butch. That's 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. It's where he got his beginning as an outlaw and figured out how easy it was to make money."
He says ropin' and riding at age 68 felt good.
Q: It seems like such a rough shoot for someone who is 68. Was it tough?
A: "I did a lot of riding at 15,000 altitudes. It was a little hard to breathe, but I did have access to oxygen," he says.
"It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it was great fun.
"As for getting older, I've slowed down a bit, but I still ride a lot. I've been riding every other day at my place in Kentucky."
SAM THE STYLISH LEGEND
Easy goes it is Shepard's motto when it comes to style. You can usually find him in jeans, a western shirt, a great black leather jacket and Aviator sunglasses.
"I try to keep it simple and comfortable," he says of his style. "I spend a big portion of the day on my farm writing. It's about feeling comfortable to do my work."
Mention that women basically fell in love with him as the sensitive veterinarian in that jean outfit in "Baby Boom" opposite Diane Keaton.
"I wasn't aware that women love that character so much," he says. "All I remember was it was so much fun doing that movie.
"Every film I've done with Diane Keaton has been fun. We have an extraordinary bond. She's 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. It's a brilliant comic script about us searching for the dog and meeting all these wacked out characters."
HIS LIFE NOW
Shepard grew up as an army brat.
"My mother was on the trail of my father who was an Air Force pilot and eventually we settled in California. As for staying out of the Hollywood scene, I just never felt at home with it. Essentially, I grew up out in the Mojave Desert near Arizona.
"I'm not sure I ever felt at home anywhere, but in my truck," he jokes.
You won't see him out on the town that much. In fact, Shepard never was part of the Hollywood party scene.
"I was never attracted to the Hollywood buzz. That's why I spend a lot of time at my place in Kentucky these days."
Just don't ask him to jet set around.
The star of the movie "The Right Stuff," laughs.
"I hate flying. Flying on a jet isn't even my cup of tea. I have courage on horses, but I'm chicken sh—when it comes to flying."
"And I did 'The Right Stuff,'" he marvels with a hearty laugh.
READ OTHER EXCLUSIVE STYLE GOES STRONG CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS