'The Ranch' Is Familiar Territory For Sam Elliot

Netflix's latest original series is an interesting new direction for the popular streaming platform. The Ranch is a traditional multi-camera sitcom, complete with laugh track, focused on capturing the hearts of middle-america. The blue-collar, conservative sitcom takes plenty of familiar faces – namely those of former That '70s Show co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson – and takes them away from the traditional urban and suburban locations most sitcoms take place in, setting them instead on a ranch in Colorado. One of the most recognizable faces on the show comes in the form of the Bennett brothers' dad, Beau.

Beau Bennett is played by Sam Elliott, a popular character actor with a penchant for serving as a living embodiment of the American cowboy. Beau — an emotionally closed-off conservative who owns and operates a farm in middle-America with his sons — is the type of role that Elliot frequently gets. His characters often hold their cards close to their chest and tend to speak not in large diatribes, but slowly and calmly. Beau is clearly a larger-than-life figure in the Bennett brothers' lives, and Elliot brings a weight to the role that makes Beau more than a caricature. If you're a fan of his role in the series, here are some of his other notable roles to revisit.

The Big Lebowski

Arguably Elliot's most recognizable role is his performance as The Stranger in the cult classic film The Big Lebowski . The role of The Stranger isn't a large one, but it is an incredibly important one to the film as The Stranger serves as the narrator throughout The Dude's journeys through Los Angeles to search for retribution for a ruined rug that get him involved in a kidnapping scheme. The Stranger is the perfect incarnation of the easygoing western-cowboy type that Elliot has built a career out of.


The critically acclaimed modern western Justified closed its sixth and final season in a big way, thanks in part to the addition of Elliot (missing his signature mustache) in the role of the villainous Avery Markham. Markham is a high-level Kentucky gangster who seeks to mark new territory for his crime empire. Elliot's reserved, yet powerful approach to the role earned him a Critic's Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series.

Parks And Recreation

Elliot's calm disposition is twisted for ultimate comedic effect in his guest role as Ron Dunn on Parks and Recreation. An exact counterpart to Ron Swanson, Ron Dunn is a liberal spiritualist who believes in being one with the Earth and all of those who inhabit it – a far cry from Ron Swanson's approach to humanity which is to not approach it at all. Rob Dunn only appears a few times in the series, but leaves a strong impression each time he shows up, especially whenever he's opposite the more well-know Ron of the series.

These three roles are just a small peek into Elliot's 45-year career, and his role as Beau on The Ranch serves as a combination of all the things that make Elliot such a distinguished actor. The cowboy charm, the quiet intensity, and his knack for humor all appear on The Ranch. Elliot is so natural in the role you'd almost think he was just being himself.

Image: Greg Gayne/Netflix, Giphy (2)