To say Sam Rockwell’s acting roles have run the gamut of a thug in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1990) to the villain in “Iron Man 2” (2010) would certainly shine light on the actor’s success.
But it wouldn’t give credit to all of the critically acclaimed yet not quite hugely bankable films in between. From “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (2002) to “Choke” (2008), Rockwell has no doubt become an actor’s actor – displaying talents in several genres.
Though “IM2” is more commercial than most of Rockwell’s movies, he didn’t change his approach to acting. Indeed, director Jon Favreau allowed Rockwell to make Justin Hammer, an arms dealer and competitor of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), his own character.
“Favreau really let me kind of just be myself and do my thing you know,” Rockwell said during a conference call to promote the film. “We were never going to try to do the ascot British accent thing [from the comic books].”
Rockwell said that what makes Favreau so special as a director is that he also knows what it feels like to be on the other side of the camera.
“He’s a really good actor, and he understands how to make things fresh and real,” Rockwell said. “He’s got a big bullshit mirror and he kind of…[knows]when it doesn’t feel real.”
The approach worked: “IM2,” also starring Mickey Rourke and Scarlett Johansson, has raked in over $133 million at the box office.
Rockwell’s working relationship with Favreau is expected to continue; Both have signed on to work on the upcoming western meets sci-fi film, “Cowboys and Aliens.” That film will see Rockwell playing a good guy – not that he didn’t enjoy trying to ruin Tony Stark in “IM2.”
“It’s fun to play bad guys, you know,” he said. “You get to break all the rules.”