Sam Rockwell is one of those actors whose mere presence in a movie can elicit excitement for a project that could have otherwise easily been written off. No matter what he's in—big budget nonsense like "Charlie's Angels" or something like Duncan Jones' moody, micro-budget "Moon"—Rockwell is sure to turn in a performance that's downright electric (or electrified, maybe). His newest film is "A Single Shot," which opens this weekend (read our review). A twisty, turn-y film noir about a down-on-his-luck hunter who makes a fatally wrong shot, killing a young woman in the woods, Rockwell is as intense as he usually is goofy, his manic energy turned inward, for a kind of bottled fury. It's quite a performance, especially considering the fine actors he's surrounded by (William H. Macy, Jeffrey Wright and Jason Isaacs are among his costars).
We got a chance to talk to Rockwell about what it was like making "A Single Shot," the make-up of his performance, who came up with a "funny fucking line" from "The Sitter," the potential for more Marvel films, what the hell everyone was thinking during the making of "Cowboys & Aliens," and more.
What brought you to this project?
I think a lot of it was, doing a role that's internal like that is fun for me. I've done these and they're always kind of fun to tell a story through your face and not so much dialogue. Telling a story like that is fun, I think. Well yeah, it's fun. But it's a different challenge, for me, to tell a story in a very simple way and not do so much schmackting, so to speak.
Do you have any favorite movies of this genre? And was your performance inspired by any of those?
I love "Badlands" and "One False Move" and a few of those genre movies and yeah I do think my performance was inspired by some of them, particularly "Tender Mercies," with Robert Duvall. That comes to mind, a little bit. Tommy Lee Jones in "Executioner's Song" is a good one. Movies like that.
Did you read the book before you signed on? And did you take anything from the book that wasn't in the screenplay?
Yeah, I took a lot from the book. I took some stuff and put it back in. I would add little bits and pieces of book details.
Let's talk about your costars, all these great actors sort of pop up…
Yeah, it was really a pleasure. It was like we were hosting a party and we had all these guests arrive. We'd entertain one guest for a while and then it was on to the next guest. At one point Melissa Leo was in the film but that scene was cut. It just goes on and on. There are just so many people—Jeffrey Wright, Ted Levine, I've always liked Joe Anderson's work. We got really lucky.
With so many distinct actors and styles was there ever a clash?
I think we got lucky because everybody was on the same page. Even Bill Macy, whose character is a little grandiose, he knew what movie he was in. Everybody kind of knew it was a genre, film noir film and we got lucky with the talent and there was a lot of love and luck involved getting these actors.