A few years ago I had the great fortune of talking to Sam Shepard for a piece in @wired about his work in the movie The Right Stuff. He played Chuck Yeager, but originally didn't want the role. "I felt like it was ridiculous to play a living person," he told me. "And I knew Chuck and I didn't feel like I was him at all. We're physically different, we're emotionally different. I didn't feel like I was empathetic to the part." But Shepard took it. The film's director kept pestering him to and ultimately he slid the script under Shepard's door at the Chateau Marmont. Shepard latched on to the character even though he was playing the greatest pilot alive and was himself afraid to fly. "Well, I thought if I died with the world's greatest pilot it would be okay," Shepard said. "We walked into this hangar and he picked up this stick with a hook on the end of it and he dragged this plane out. And we got in it and flew over the desert." Later in the interview, Shepard talked about a fist fight @toscacafesf during the course of shooting the film. He punched a guy out defending the honor of the restaurant's owner. And when I asked him about being an actor playing a character who breaks the sound barrier, he said the following and I still think about it, and what it means, all the time: "I don't do research like that. I'm not a method actor. I just go for it. I find—in this case, here's a real guy, and I could have cared less about the sound barrier. What I was trying to do was capture something about the man. Something about his independence, something about his arrogance, something about his humility and his courage. That's all I was interested in. I wasn't interested in sound barriers."