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Matthew McConaughey found out about Sam Shepard’s death on the red carpet, and handled it perfectly

Matthew McConaughey got some bad news today, in one of the most awkward ways possible: from a reporter on the red carpet. And he handled it with perfect class.

It was about the death of Sam Shepard, the legendary writer and director who just passed away at age 73 due to complications related to ALS.

McConaughey, who worked with Shepard in the past — most recently on the 2012 film Mud — hadn’t yet heard the news about the death of his friend. But a hapless red carpet reporter decided to ask him about it, inadvertently breaking some highly personal and very bad news to McConaughey, right in front of the cameras.

To his credit, McConaughey handled the situation with admirable grace and tact, mentioning that he hadn’t heard the news and didn’t want to trivialize the situation, before offering his own reminiscences about his great admiration for Shepard, ending with a send-off to his friend.

McConaughey’s sincere admiration for Shepard came through clearly in his comments, and he didn’t resort to the kind of overblown histrionics that might be expected of a celebrity getting such bad news during an interview.

So in case you had any lingering doubts as to whether McConaughey could possibly be as cool as he seems, this should settle it once and for all.

And for those of you who don’t know Shepard and might not realize why McConaughey’s respect for him is so strong, he was an Oscar-nominated actor, award-winning playwright, director, and screenwriter:

He clearly left a huge impact on those who knew him, and not just McConaughey — Shepard’s long-time friend (and former lover), legendary rocker Patti Smith, offered her own touching eulogy for her departed friend in The New Yorker.

Sam Shepard died on on July 27 at his home in Kentucky, surrounded by family. No doubt his legacy will continue to live on through his work and the people he influenced during his amazing life.

Rest in Peace, Sam.