After seeing The Way Way Back I knew what I needed to write about. Due to his epic awesomeness here are the Top Five Sam Rockwell Performances.
5. Owen, The Way Way Back (2013)
The film that inspired this list (also the best movie of summer). Rockwell plays Owen, a guy who never grew up and works at a water park in the beach community Duncan (Liam James) and his family visit. He talks in a series of jokes and doesn’t take life, or himself, seriously. Yet he is wiser than he thinks, or perhaps cares to admit. Rather than be angry at his situation, he embraces its carefreeness, which helps when he meets Duncan and sees a kid truly lost. Rockwell is perfect for this role. It’s almost cheating because he’s basically playing himself but it’s okay because he’s Sam “I’m-Amazing-and-You-Know-It” Rockwell and it’s great to watch his charm on screen.
4. Eric Knox, Charlie’s Angels (2000)
Knox is a victim-turned-bad-guy. He tricks the Angels into giving him access to some ultimate spy software in order to seek revenge against Charlie for something he’s pretty sure he did. The plot isn’t important. It is important that Rockwell does an excellent job of transitioning from the shy “victim” to the vindictive villain. He has all kinds of attitude. From his callous shooting of Dylan (Drew Barrymore) after they have slept together, to his suave dance moves as he celebrates evil victory. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and Rockwell translates that into his performance. He’s playing the villain in a solid popcorn flick, he might as well have fun with it.
3. Sam Bell, Moon (2009)
Rockwell playing opposite Rockwell. What could be better? There aren’t many actors that could carry a film almost entirely by themselves but that’s what he does here. He never really interacts with the half-dozen other actors in the film, except Kevin Spacey, who doesn’t actually appear on screen. Rockwell plays clones discovering who (or what) they truly are while on a mission to collect resources from the moon. Things end up going very wrong. There isn’t a lot of action so it’s mostly Rockwell against Rockwell. He really only has his own acting to feed off of and to do so this successfully demonstrates true talent.
2. Chuck Barris, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
It’s unclear whether Chuck Barris was a CIA operative or simply had an active imagination. He claims he was but who knows for sure? The filmmakers seemed to want to demonstrate this ambiguity so they set it up to be interpreted both as real and very made up. This tactic only works because Rockwell brings the perfect amount of cockiness and crazy to the role. As the creator of The Gong Show, he is normal, a bit unhappy and unsure of himself. As the assassin, he is cool, deliberate and maliciously ruthless. Rockwell plays it off as though he could easily be a simple television producer, dreaming of a more fascinating life, or he could be a criminal mastermind.
1. Guy Fleegman, Galaxy Quest (1999)
If you haven’t seen this, stop reading immediately, and watch it! Now that you have been enlightened, I’ll begin. Anyone who has ever seen Star Trek should find this film hilarious (if you don’t, you have no sense of humor and I feel sorry for you). It’s a straight up parody and while every bit is funny, the best part is Rockwell. He plays a perpetual extra from a washed up television series who now spends his time moderating panels at conventions. When the actors are mistaken to be actual space heroes by aliens, Guy goes along, thinking it’s another gig. What follows is a series of comical mishaps, most involving wonderfully funny lines from Rockwell. Everyone was great but he went a step beyond to create some of the most amusing pieces of film ever.