Famed actor Sam Shepard sadly died on July 27, 2017, at age 73 after battling ALS. And now, unknown facts have been revealed about his 50-year-long career in showbiz: he never even wanted to get into acting!

When he first came to NYC in the 1960s, Sam was actually just a playwright. In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, famed actress Sally Kirkland opened up about her first encounter with the late star. “I said to him, ‘I know you’re an incredible writer, but you should be an actor because you have such charisma,'” she confessed. “He said, ‘No, I don’t want to be an actor,’ and I said, ‘But I don’t think you have a choice.’”

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Sam soon became famous for his roles in Black Hawk Down, Klondike, Bloodline, The Right Stuff, Swordfish, Mud, The Notebook, Safe House, and more. He additionally he received a Golden Globe nomination for Dash and Lilly and an Oscar nomination for The Right Stuff.

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And while he was amazing on the big screen, it wasn’t his true passion. “Writing was his main love until the end,” John J. Winters, author of Sam Shepard: A Life, told Closer. Michael Townsend Smith, who directed one of Sam��s early shows, added, “Writing just bubbled up in him.” He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for Buried Child.

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Sam in the 1970s.

Sam often turned to writing to deal with his inner demons from his childhood. “His dad was pretty verbally abusive to Sam,” his high school friend Derrald Mead recalled. “But that was the alcohol talking.”

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The Days of Heaven star once said about his work, “Writing has become more and more interesting. It’s a thing of discovering. That’s when writing is really working. You’re on the trail of something, and you don’t quite know what it is.” You and your writing will forever be missed, Sam.

For more on Sam, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive news!