SAM ROCKWELL hit the big time in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and is set to hoot his way through Welcome to Collinwood. Where next? Words: Maureen Ellis
am Rockwell doesn't quite cut the ﬁgure ot‘ the
Hollywood poster-boy. ()n the ads for lli'It'n/m' In
('u/liiiimml. despite his top-billing. you'd be forgiven for missing him. A tattooed (ieot'ge (‘looney takes centre- stage () Brut/it'r-meets-15mm Dusk lil/ [hunt in screwball mode — which isn't bad going for someone appearing in an itty—bitty‘ cameo. William H lit/jun .\lacy and lsaiali Spike Lee darling' Washington lurk mcekly iii the background. Meanwhile. Rockwell gurns in character—acttir mode.
liven in his mainstream lead debut. (‘miitw‘mn o/‘u [hummus Mimi. it‘s Rockwell’s silhouette. not his lace. that graces the poster. Poised on the edge of celebrity status. there’s still a great divide that the 34-year-old actor iiitist cross from indie-flick hero to bankable household name. 'l'aleiit- wise. there’s no doubting he's got it in him. and then sortie. So what's stopping him‘.’
(iranted. he's not conventionally good—looking by Hollywood studio standards. lti l'act. aside from a heeled-tip bod. he appears to be every inch the anti-movie star. llis litiii"s l‘lut't'y. he has the universally laiiiotis trait ol' being much smaller in the flesh. he‘s wearing a beige suit-jacket and trousers combo and he looks. well. ordinary.
And perhaps tedium has got the better ol' him. btit only tleeting glints ot‘ his sexy kookiness are evident as he settles down to chew the fat for my allotted press juiiket on the (mi/inv'si’mis' tour. Ile picks tip on my accent immediately and we chat for a moment about lidinburgh: he’s heard great things and says he wants to come to the l‘ilni Festival this year. But. more tellingly. he sounds exhausted. ‘l’ve been on tour for . . . about . . . months and months nova he say s. scratching his stubble. yet t'octising intensely. ‘lt‘s been going on and on.‘
Is the workload involved in bigger-budget l'ilms more demanding'.’ ‘lt's a bigger responsibility. yeah. and it's a lot ol‘ pressure: emotionally. physically . . . everything.’
20 THE LIST .7-1 At".:* Ma;
'l‘hree lilms on the trot should rightly take their toll. l'ilming has just wrapped oii Ritlley Scott‘s crime caper .lltllt'llS/U'k .l/(‘II. in which Rockwell plays the sidekick to Nicolas ('age”s con artist. Preceding that was the epic autobiography ol' l'S gameshow host ('htick Barris. (yummy/(nit Ufa Dangerous Mind. which involved three months ol‘ shooting in Montreal and propelled Rockwell to leading man status. earning him rave reviews and a Silver Bear award l'or best actor at the Berlin l'ilm l‘estival. .\lore documented was the tact that ('mi/i'sv/uns was (icorge ('looney 's directorial debut and (‘looney t‘otight tooth and nail to have the relatively unknow n Rockwell play Harris. rejecting llolly wood .v\-listers in the process.
llcsitantly. I begin to enquire how it tell beating more established actors to the part. Rockwell is having none til. it. ‘()li. you mean celebrities'.’ Yeah. :\-llst movie stars.' he says. gleel‘ully. with a l'lickci' ol‘ the trademark roguishness he portrays on screen. 'I mean Sean Penn. .\like .\lyers. .lohn ('tisack . . . countless people were tip for it and then the movie l'cll apart. (ieorge was I'llt'l'(‘(/I'/)/.\' adamant that it was going to be me. I mean nothing was going to stop him and that's the only way it would have happened."
The word ‘tairytale’ has been used to describe the sequence ol- events that facilitated the ﬁrst (‘looney-Rockw ell encounter. Steven Soderbergh caught a chance screening ol student lilm l’i't't't's at the Slamtlance l'ilm l’estival in l‘)‘)7. llc contacted the ﬁlms directors. Joe and Anthony Rtisso. and ol‘t‘ei'cd his producing services. When the Section liight production company was t‘oriiietl by Sotlerbergh and (‘looncy. the tint script they adopted was Rtisso‘s lll'h‘nim' In ('u/liiiit'onil. an adaptation of a IUSS Italian movie. Big Deal (III .llmlumiu SHIT].
True to Section liight's ethos ot‘ blending the best of the independent and studio worlds. the directors chose their lavotirite actors. mostly from the independent stables.