Sam Rockwell on Typecasting and One of His Worst Auditions

Actor Sam Rockwell

“I’m kind of a workhorse. It takes a toll” – Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell has appeared in dozens of acclaimed movies in many memorable roles — though the California native is most often cast in character roles and supporting parts that often don’t reveal his full command of his craft (as he presents fully in perhaps his best performance, Moon). In an interview with The Guardian, Rockwell goes into his frustration with typecasting and recalls a funny example of when he tried to act outside of the box for an audition.

Rockwell admits that he does feel typecast by the roles he is typically offered. He says, “I’m playing so many hicks and it’s not where I come from. I’m really a concrete creature, but they keep throwing me on a horse.”

However, when asked if it’s frustrating enough to make him give up on acting he reveals that it’s out of the question. He says, “Never! I guess that’s why Daniel Day-Lewis goes and makes shoes or something. I could never do that. Or why Sean Penn goes to Haiti. I guess you have to refill a little bit – but I’m kind of a workhorse. It takes a toll. It took a toll on my friend Phil [Philip Seymour] Hoffman. He never wanted to phone it in, on stage especially. He was a dear friend and I think he demanded an awful lot from himself.”

As for Hoffman’s death, Rockwell explains that it taught him something. He says, “Well, it was a lesson – you have to have a giggle at the end of the day.”

Speaking of that end-of-day giggle, Rockwell recalls a particularly bad audition from his early days. He says, “Well, I have a lot of memories all over LA, a lot from being a broke struggling actor, too, sleeping on couches. Auditioning for ER, Noah Wyle’s part, I think, and turning up in a white lab coat that I’d found somewhere, to make me look more like a doctor, and holding a hypodermic syringe… Only the plastic part, it didn’t have a needle.” Of course, it did not go well. “They did think I was crazy though.”

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