“Sam Shepard moved on?” the actor asked incredulously at The Dark Tower premiere in New York City Tuesday night, after an Associated Press reporter broke the news.
Shepard, who starred with McConaughey in 2012’s Mud, died at his home in Kentucky on July 27 after battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, PEOPLE confirmed. The actor’s illness was not publicly known. He was with his family at the time of his death.
“Look, I’m not going to trivialize that situation, I just heard about it for the first time,” the actor added. “But I always told Jeff Nichols this, I said the whole trailer for Mud could be Sam Shepard sitting in that green chair telling the boy about who Mud is. It’d be about a 2 1/2 minute trailer, but it would have been really badass.
“He moved on today?” McConaughey asked again, still in disbelief. “Well, we lost one of the great ones. Great writer, great mind. See you in the next one Sam.”
RELATED: Oscar-Nominated Actor Sam Shepard Dead at Age 73
Shepard made his acting debut in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven in 1978 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983’s The Right Stuff.
Despite his success, he was known for shying away from the spotlight of Hollywood.
Shepard was also an author, director and playwright. He has written over 40 plays and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child.
He wrote several films as well, including Paris, Texas, Fool for Loveand Simpatico.
Shepard is survived by his two sisters, Sandy and Roxanne Rogers, and his three children: Jesse Mojo, 47, from his marriage to O-Lan Jones, as well as Hannah Jane, 31, and Samuel Walker, 30, from his longtime relationship with Jessica Lange.