ShowBusinessMan + Zowie Bowie

Rockwell by name, Rockwell by nature, or "Welcome to the MOON!"

Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell | MOON

I'm constantly altering the order of the entrants in my hypothetical `favourite actor's list'.However, one permanent feature has been the always awesome and versatile Sam Rockwell. Since his debut in the teen-horror Clownhouse, the 40-year-old has gone on to become a one-man gallery of crooks, rogues and oddballs. Critics adore him. Cinephiles applaud him. Yet still he manages to tread comfortably on the line between stardom and obscurity. Touted as `the next big thing’ for over a decade, Rockwell has made a career of playing the anti-hero. He shifts between supporting roles and leading parts as if they were gears in a car and is widely considered one of the finest actors working today. With a name like a character from an Austin Powers movie, Rockwell is the go-to man for directors with controversial or challenging parts. Thus, when Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, entered into a career as a filmmaker it’s no wonder he wrote his debut feature Moon as a vehicle for Sam Rockwell. As audiences worldwide prepare to see him in the biggest the role of his career, I thought I'd put together this piece to look back at some of the his most memorable performances.

His breakthrough performance was in 1997 as a lovable oddity in Tom DiCillo’s Box of Moonlight. He went on to star in a number indie drama’s and had his first foray in to studio pictures as a child murderer in The Green Mile (below). Despite only having a small amount of screen time, Rockwell left a lasting impression as the charismatic killer.

Charisma was again a major feature in his role as Eric Knox in Charlie’s Angels. One of his most well-known parts, Rockwell was unforgettable as the quirky and deranged super-villain who was just as comfortable moon-walking to Pharaoh Monche as he was shooting missiles from his helicopter. However, it was his leading turn in George Clooney’s directorial debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind that certified Rockwell as a rising talent. He won the Silver Berlin Bear for best actor at the Berlin International Film Festival for playing game show impresario Chuck Barris, who claimed to have been a CIA hitman.

With a growing reputation as a diverse character actor, Rockwell went on to star in several large supporting roles in films such as Matchstick Men, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Snow Angels and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Perhaps his most controversial role was as a sex-addicted con-man in last year’s Choke which is based on a book by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. As a serious actor it would be difficult to find a juicer part than that of a man who pays for his mothers hospital bills by playing on the sympathies of those who save him from choking to death. On the surface it’s the kind of character that audiences should have loathed but Rockwell threw himself in to the part making him poignant and hilarious. He followed Choke with the Oscar nominated Frost/Nixon where he played passionate political writer James Preston Jr.

Although he has spent much of his career playing second fiddle, in his latest film Rockwell is back at leading-man. In fact, he is the only actor in Moon. He plays astronaut Sam Bell (below) who is wrapping up a three-year stint on the moon where he has been overseeing the mining interests of the Lunar Corporation. With the exception of recorded messages from his family and bosses back on Earth, his only company is the base’s computer Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey). That is until he meets a younger, angrier version of himself who claims to be there to fulfil the same three-year contract. Engaging the eye as much as the mind, Moon draws from classic science-fiction films and is propelled by an intense performance from Rockwell. Taking out the best British film award at the Edinburgh film festival earlier this year, it has been hailed as a remarkable debut from Duncan Jones who wrote the film to lure Rockwell in to working with him.

Made on a budget of $5 million and shot in 33 days, Moon has been hailed as an intelligent, intriguing and unique film held together by Rockwell’s performance. Critics have tipped this as the film to finally elevate the American actor to A-List, leading man status. Whether this will actually come to fruition remains to be seen, however Rockwell seems content with his position in modern day cinema. If nothing else the role will be another display of brilliance from the actor and can be added to his repertoire of unusual characters. In the mean time, his next move is away from the indie-circuit and back in to blockbuster mode as he stars alongside Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2.

David Bowie, Duncan Jones, New Moon, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, and more:

Rockwell by name, Rockwell by nature, or "Welcome to the MOON!" + Zowie Bowie