Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell


Life Story

Sam Rockwell was born on November 5, 1968, in San Mateo, California, the only child of two actors, Pete Rockwell and Penny Hess. The family moved to New York when he was two years old, living first in the Bronx and later in Manhattan. When Sam was five years old, his parents separated, at which point he and his father moved to San Francisco, where he subsequently grew up, while summers and other times were spent with his mother in New York.

He made his acting debut when he was ten years old, alongside his mother, and later attended J Eugene McAteer High School in a program called SOTA. While still in high school, he got his first big break when he appeared in the independent film Clownhouse (1989). The plot revolved around three escaped mental patients who dressed up as clowns and terrorized three brothers home alone--Sam played the eldest of the brothers. His next big break was supposed to have come when he was slated to star in a short-lived NBC TV-series called Dream Street (1989), but he was soon fired.


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Told Carson Daly in a talk-show appearance that he dropped out of G.I. Jane (1997) because he didn't want to get cold filming the night time SCUBA scenes.
Filmed his scenes for Jarhead (2005) in one day. His scenes were later deleted.
To memorize lines, he says he dictates them into a tape recorder in a monotone, so he won't get used to any inflection before he's had a chance to consider which speech pattern would be appropriate for the character.
Had a minor appearance in Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) but his role was removed from the final cut. The scene was the one of the "lover's lane" of sorts, when the Terenzi brothers drive up in their ice cream truck.
Close friends with actor Justin Long and Jonathan Togo.
Is an only child of actor Pete Rockwell and Penny Hess.
Parents separated when he was 5 years old.
Improvised most of his lines in Made (2001).
Friends with Laurel Holloman. Cousin of Aaron Rockwell.


Personal Quotes 

Sarita (Sarita Choudhury) was the one that got away. She was amazing, really amazing. I loved Sarita. She was my pal.
[on his role in Galaxy Quest (1999)]: That part is kind of an homage to Bill Paxton in Aliens (1986). I definitely stole some moves from my buddy [actor] Steve Zahn and Bill Murray's lounge singer character from Saturday Night Live (1975) is in there somewhere. Plus a little Michael Keaton in Night Shift (1982) and definitely some Richard Pryor. I get a lot from Richard Pryor actually. How agile he is, vulnerable.
I really believe that people like Bill Murray or John Belushi are just as great and just as valid as Robert De Niro or Al Pacino. And I don't think you can say One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) is a better movie than National Lampoon's Animal House (1978); they're different genres. I think they're both examples of great craftsmanship.
I have a constant sort of melancholy approach to acting that fuels me. I want to do everything.
[Recalling a period he went through when he was 18]: I watched Raging Bull (1980) like 50 times. I wanted to be Italian. For a year I was Italian; that's all I did. I could do all that New York street stuff to the point where I would get feedback from my auditions, "He's too New York, he's too urban" and I was from San Francisco, really.
[on what he would do if he wasn't an actor]: I have no skills. There's absolutely nothing I know how to do. So I'd be fucked otherwise. I'm very fortunate to be an actor. I know I'm very lucky to be doing this. And though I'm not sure where I'm going to end up -- whether it's in major films, independents, or theater work -- I'm just happy getting to do roles that are really juicy, meaningful and allow me to keep adventuring the way I have been.
[on his role in The Green Mile (1999)]: I guess Wild Bill is a disgusting, racist, pedophile freak. But I'd been wanting to play a psycho, a juicy one. I saw him as Huck Finn meets Satan. The kind of part Gary Oldman or John Malkovich might play. It's just a cool part.
I've been in more than 20 movies. You just do the best you can and try to make a living. Whether it's The Green Mile (1999), Galaxy Quest (1999) or Lawn Dogs (1997). There's no difference, not for me.



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