Credit: Michael Loccisano / Staff / Getty

Matthew McConaughey was already looking pretty worn out on the red carpet for the premiere of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower last night—a consequence of the film’s troubled production, no doubt—and hearing that a friend and colleague just passed away when you’re supposed to just be spouting pre-approved statements certainly doesn’t seem to have helped.

Yesterday, Oscar-nominated actor and playwright Sam Shepard died, and when a hapless reporter mentions this news to McConaughey you can literally see the actor snap out of his press-induced stupor. The pair worked together on 2012’s Mud, and, once his initial shock wears off, the actor offers up a brief tribute:

If you look at—look, I’m not gonna trivialize that situation I just heard about for the first time—but I always said that, and I always told Jeff Nichols this, I said, look, in Mud, the whole trailer for Mud could be Sam Shepard sitting in that green chair telling the boy about who Mud is. It would be about a two-and-a-half minute trailer but it would’ve been really badass.

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Kudos to McConaughey for not only handling tough news with such grace, but also conjuring up some kind words for someone he clearly respected. Bad news like that is about the last thing someone wants to hear when they’re wading through a sea of flashing cameras.