Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell (born November 5, 1968) is an American actor. He became well known for his leading roles in Lawn Dogs (1997), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Matchstick Men (2003), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Moon (2009), Seven Psychopaths (2012), and Richard Jewell (2019). He has also played supporting roles in The Green Mile (1999), Galaxy Quest (1999), Frost/Nixon (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Conviction (2010), and The Way, Way Back (2013).

Sam Rockwell
Rockwell at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival
Born (1968-11-05) November 5, 1968
ResidenceLos Angeles County, California, U.S.
Alma materRuth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts
OccupationActor
Years active1988–present
Partner(s)Leslie Bibb (2007–present)

In 2017, Rockwell's performance as a troubled police officer in the crime film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[1][2][3][4] He was nominated in the same category the following year for his portrayal of George W. Bush in the political satire Vice.[5][6] In 2019, he portrayed Bob Fosse in the FX biographical miniseries Fosse/Verdon, earning him a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series.

Early life and education

Rockwell was born November 5, 1968, in Daly City, California.[7][8] He is the only child of actors Pete Rockwell and Penny Hess. After their divorce when he was five, he was raised by his father in San Francisco, and spent his summers with his mother in New York.[9] At age 10, he made a brief stage appearance playing Humphrey Bogart in an East Village improv comedy sketch with his mother.[10]

He started high school at the San Francisco School of the Arts with Margaret Cho and Aisha Tyler, but received his high school diploma from Urban Pioneers, an Outward Bound-style alternative school. Rockwell explained, "I just wanted to get stoned, flirt with girls, go to parties." The school "had a reputation as a place stoners went because it was easy to graduate."[11] The school ended up helping him regain an interest in performing. After appearing in an independent film during his senior year, he moved to New York to pursue an acting career.[12]

Career

Early films

After his debut role in the horror film Clownhouse in 1989, which he filmed while living in San Francisco, he moved to New York and trained at the William Esper Studios with teacher William Esper.[13] His career slowly gained momentum in the early 1990s, when he alternated between small-screen guest spots in TV series like The Equalizer, NYPD Blue and Law & Order and small roles in films such as Last Exit to Brooklyn and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He also appeared as the title character in The Search for One-eye Jimmy (1994). During this time, Rockwell worked in restaurants as a busboy and delivered burritos by bicycle.[14] At one point, Rockwell even worked as a private detective's assistant. "I tailed a chick who was having an affair and took pictures of her at this motel", he told Rolling Stone in 2002. "It was pretty sleazy." A well-paying Miller commercial in 1994 finally allowed him to pursue acting full-time.

The turning point in Rockwell's career was Tom DiCillo's film Box of Moonlight (1996), in which he played an eccentric man-child who dresses like Davy Crockett and lives in an isolated mobile home. The ensuing acclaim put him front and center with casting agents and newfound fans alike, with Rockwell himself acknowledging that "That film was definitely a turning point...I was sort of put on some independent film map after 10 years in New York."[12]

He also received strong reviews for the film Lawn Dogs (1997), where he played a working-class lawn mower who befriends a wealthy 10-year-old girl (Mischa Barton) in an upper-class gated community in Kentucky; Rockwell's performance won him Best Actor honors at both the Montreal World Film Festival and the Catalan International Film Festival. In 1999, Rockwell played prisoner William "Wild Bill" Wharton in the Stephen King prison drama The Green Mile. At the time of the film's shooting, Rockwell explained why he was attracted to playing such unlikable characters. He said, "I like that dark stuff. I think heroes should be flawed. There's a bit of self-loathing in there, and a bit of anger... But after this, I've really got to play some lawyers, or a British aristocrat, or they'll put a label on me."[9]

Hollywood recognition

After appearances as a bumbling actor in the sci-fi parody Galaxy Quest (1999), as Flute in the Shakespeare adaptation A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), and as gregarious villain Eric Knox in Charlie's Angels (2000), Rockwell won the then-biggest leading role of his career as The Gong Show host Chuck Barris in George Clooney's directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002). Rockwell's performance was well-received, and the film earned generally positive reviews.

Rockwell has also received positive notices for his role opposite Nicolas Cage in Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men (2003), with Entertainment Weekly calling him "destined by a kind of excessive interestingness to forever be a colorful sidekick."[15] He received somewhat more mixed reviews as Zaphod Beeblebrox in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). He then had a notable supporting role as Charley Ford, brother of Casey Affleck's character Robert Ford, in the well-received drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), in which Brad Pitt played the lead role of Jesse James. According to an interview on The Howard Stern Show, director Jon Favreau considered casting him as the titular character in Iron Man as the studio was initially hesitant to work with Robert Downey Jr., who had been considered for his role in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Rockwell eventually appeared in Iron Man 2, released in 2010, as Tony Stark's rival weapons developer, Justin Hammer. He is said to have accepted the role without reading the script. He had never heard of the character before he was contacted about the role and was unaware that Hammer is an old man in the comic books.

In addition to big-budget feature films, Rockwell has also appeared in indie films such as The F Word and played a randy, Halloween-costume-clad Batman in a short, Robin's Big Date, opposite Justin Long as Robin. He also starred in the film Snow Angels (2008) opposite Kate Beckinsale. He has worked on several occasions with the comedy troupe Stella (Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain), making cameo appearances in their short films and eponymous TV series.

Rockwell played Victor Mancini in the film Choke (2008), based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Critic Roger Ebert said of his performance that he "seems to have become the latter-day version of Christopher Walken – not all the time, but when you need him, he's your go-to guy for weirdness."[16]

In 2007, Rockwell guest-starred in the web series Casted: The Continuing Chronicles of Derek Riffchyn, Greatest Casting Director in the World. Ever. He appears opposite Jonathan Togo as Derek and Justin Long as Scott. Rockwell plays an aspiring young actor named Pete Sampras.[17] In 2009, he starred in the critically acclaimed science fiction film Moon, directed by Duncan Jones. His performance as a lonely astronaut on a long-term solo mission to the Moon was widely praised, with some critics calling for an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination.[18] On May 3, 2010, it was announced that Rockwell would team up again with Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau for Favreau's adaptation of the graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens. He played a bar owner named Doc who joins in the pursuit of the aliens.[19]

Rockwell also appeared in Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths (2012),[20] as well as Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's The Way, Way Back (2013).[21] For his performance in The Way, Way Back, some critics felt he again deserved an Academy Award nomination.[22][23]

In January 2014, it was announced that Rockwell was cast in The Eel, in which he played an escaped convict. The film was produced by Kevin Walsh, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, marking Rockwell's second collaboration with all three.[24] Additionally, Rockwell starred in the 2015 remake of Poltergeist. On May 3, 2016, it was announced that Rockwell would voice Mortimer Ramsey in the action video game Dishonored 2. Rockwell was cast along with other Marvel Cinematic Universe actors.[25]

Rockwell re-teamed with McDonagh for the 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. His performance as a racist, bullying police officer Jason Dixon won several accolades, including his first Academy Award, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture,[26] two Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. In August 2017, Rockwell was cast to play George W. Bush in Adam McKay's Vice, a biopic of Dick Cheney; he received his second nomination for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award as a result.[27]

Theatre

Since 1992, Rockwell has been a member of the New York-based LAByrinth Theater Company, where John Ortiz is a co-artistic director. In 2005, Philip Seymour Hoffman directed him in Stephen Adly Guirgis' hit play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Rockwell workshopped a LAByrinth production, North of Mason-Dixon, which debuted in London in 2007 and then premiered in New York later the same year. Other plays in which Rockwell has performed include: Dumb Waiter (2001), Zoo Story (2001), The Hot L Baltimore (2000), Goosepimples (1998), Love and Human Remains, Face Divided, Orphans, Den of Thieves, Dessert at Waffle House, The Largest Elizabeth, and A Behanding in Spokane.

Personal life

Rockwell has never been married and stated in a 2007 interview, "I definitely don't want to become a parent. It's not my bag."[28] Rockwell has been in a relationship with actress Leslie Bibb since 2007, when they reportedly met in Los Angeles as he was filming Frost/Nixon. They both appeared in Iron Man 2 and Don Verdean.[29][30]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1989ClownhouseRandy
1990Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesHead Thug
1991Strictly BusinessGary
1992Jack and His FriendsLouie
1992In the SoupPauli
1992Light SleeperJealous
1992Happy Hell NightYoung Henry Collins
1994Somebody to LovePolish Guy
1994The Search for One-eye JimmyOne-eye Jimmy Hoyt
1995DrunksTony
1995Glory DazeRob
1995MercyMatty
1996Bad Liver and a Broken HeartBroken HeartShort film
1996BasquiatThug
1996Box of MoonlightThe Kid, a.k.a. Bucky
1997Arresting GenaSonny
1997Lawn DogsTrent Burns
1998The Call BackAlan / Christopher Walken
1998Jerry and TomJerry
1998Louis & FrankSam
1998Safe MenSam
1998CelebrityDarrow Entourage
1999A Midsummer Night’s DreamFrancis Flute
1999The Green MileWilliam "Wild Bill" Wharton
1999Galaxy QuestGuy Fleegman
2000Charlie's AngelsEric Knox
2001D.C. SmallsKaraoke SingerShort film
2001PretzelSam
2001BigLoveNateShort film
2001MadeHotel ClerkUncredited
2001HeistJimmy Silk
200213 MoonsRick
2002Running TimeThe HuntedShort film
2002Welcome to CollinwoodPero Mahalovic
2002Confessions of a Dangerous MindChuck Barris
2002Stella Shorts 1998–2002Pizza GuyDirect-to-video; Short: "Bored"
2003Matchstick MenFrank Mercer
2004Piccadilly JimPiccadilly Jim / Jim Crocker
2005The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyZaphod Beeblebrox
2005The F WordJeremy
2005Robin's Big DateThe Bat-manShort film
2007JoshuaBrad Cairn
2007Snow AngelsGlenn Marchand
2007The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FordCharley Ford
2008Woman in BurkaSamShort film
2008ChokeVictor Mancini
2008Frost/NixonJames Reston Jr.
2009The Winning SeasonBillAlso producer
2009MoonSam Bell
2009G-ForceDarwin
2009Gentlemen BroncosBronco / Brutus
2009Everybody's FineRobert Goode
2010Iron Man 2Justin Hammer
2010F—KSamShort film
2010ConvictionKenneth Waters
2011GettysburgNarratorDocumentary
2011Cowboys & AliensDoc
2011The SitterKarl
2012Seven PsychopathsBilly Bickle
2013The Way, Way BackOwen
2013A Single ShotJohn Moon
2013Trust MeAldo Stankas
2013A Case of YouGary
2013Better Living Through ChemistryDouglas Varney
2014Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the KingJustin HammerShort film
2014LaggiesCraig Hunter
2014Loitering with IntentWayne
2015Digging for FireRay
2015Don VerdeanDon Verdean
2015PoltergeistEric Bowen
2015Mr. RightMr. Right / Francis Munch
2017AxisHimselfVoice
2017The Dark of NightOfficer WittShort film
2017Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriOfficer Jason Dixon
2017Woman Walks AheadColonel Silas Grove
2018BlazeOilman #1
2018MuteSam BellUncredited cameo
2018Blue IguanaEddie
2018ViceGeorge W. Bush
2019The Best of EnemiesC. P. Ellis
2019Jojo RabbitCaptain Klenzendorf
2019Richard JewellWatson Bryant
2020Trolls World TourHickoryVoice; in production
2020The One and Only IvanIvanVoice; post-production

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1988The EqualizerSlickEpisode: "The Child Broker"
1989Dream StreetJoeyEpisode: "Girl's Talk"
1990ABC Afterschool SpecialJasonEpisode: "Over the Limit"
1992–1993Law & OrderRandy Borland, Officer Weddeker2 episodes
1993Lifestories: Families in CrisisKevin TunellEpisode: "Dead Drunk: The Kevin Tunell Story"
1995NYPD BlueBillyEpisode: "Torah! Torah! Torah!"
1997Subway StoriesMan EatingTelevision film
Segment: "Sax Cantor Riff"
1997–2000Prince StreetDonny Hanson6 episodes
2005StellaGary MeadowsEpisode: "Office Party"
2012Napoleon DynamiteFilson (voice)Episode: "FFA"
2015Drunk HistoryBugsy SiegelEpisode: "Las Vegas"
2015–presentF Is for FamilyVic (voice)26 episodes
2016Inside Amy SchumerSamEpisode: "Fame"
2018Saturday Night LiveHimself (host)Episode: "Sam Rockwell/Halsey"
2019Fosse/VerdonBob Fosse8 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role
2009G-ForceDarwin
2016Dishonored 2Mortimer Ramsey

Theatre

Year Title Role
2001Zoo StoryJerry
Dumb WaiterGus
2010A Behanding in SpokaneMervyn
2014Fool for LoveEddie

Awards and nominations

References

  1. "Sam Rockwell". GoldenGlobes.com. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  2. "The 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". SAGAwards.org. Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  3. "Film - Supporting Actor in 2018". BAFTA.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  4. "THE 90TH ACADEMY AWARDS - 2018". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  5. "Sam Rockwell". GoldenGlobes.com. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  6. "Film - Supporting Actor in 2019". BAFTA.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  7. Barney, Chuck (March 4, 2018). "Oscars 2018: Bay Area's Sam Rockwell wins best supporting actor". The Mercury News. Archived from the original on February 20, 2019.
  8. Neal, Rome (January 22, 2003). "Sam Rockwell's 'Confessions'". CBS News. Archived from the original on February 20, 2019.
  9. "Sam Rockwell; One-Man Gallery of Rogues, Crooks and Oddballs". by Laura Winters, The New York Times. September 13, 1998. Retrieved March 25, 2008.
  10. “Sam Rockwell,” by Miranda Spencer. Biography, January 2003.
  11. "Today's Buzz Stories: Rockwell turned around". CNN Showbuzz. December 23, 2002. Archived from the original on July 20, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
  12. Weinraub, Bernard (January 23, 1998). "AT THE MOVIES; Looking Back At 2 Classics". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  13. "Sam Rockwell | The Talks". The Talks. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  14. “Sam Rockwell,” by M.B. Rolling Stone, 10/3/02.
  15. "Movie Review: Matchstick Men". by Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly. September 10, 2003. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
  16. "Choke". Chicago Sun-Times. September 25, 2008.
  17. Casted: Episode 2 – Enter The Sampras! (with Sam Rockwell) on YouTube
  18. Moon. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2012-08-18.
  19. Flores, Ramses (May 3, 2010). "Sam Rockwell cast in COWBOYS & ALIENS". collider.com. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  20. "Martin McDonagh Helms 'Seven Psychopaths', Colin Farrell among all-star cast". iftn.com. May 12, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  21. Mele, Rick (July 5, 2013). "Sam Rockwell in 'The Way, Way Back': Will It Be His Breakout Role?". Moviefone. AOL. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  22. Seibert, Perry. "The Way Way Back Review". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  23. "The Way Way Back - Movie Review". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  24. Fleming, Jr., Mike (January 17, 2014). "Sundance: 'Laggies' Sam Rockwell Sets 'The Eel' To Reunite With 'Way Way Back' Gang". Deadline Hollywood. PMC. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  25. "Dishonored 2 Taps Vocal Talent From Game Of Thrones, Daredevil, And The Wire". Game Informer.
  26. Lawrence, Derek (January 7, 2018). "Sam Rockwell wins best supporting actor at Golden Globes". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  27. Kit, Borys (August 31, 2017). "Sam Rockwell to Play George W. Bush in Adam McKay's Dick Cheney Biopic (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  28. Chrissy Iley (November 11, 2007). It's scary in here.... Interview – Film.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-08-18.
  29. Tom Shone (December 3, 2012). "Sam Rockwell: Hollywood's odd man out". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  30. Brody, Richard (December 17, 2015). "Jared Hess's Bitter Religious Satire, "Don Verdean"". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
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