In a business rife with flashes in the pan, stars who enjoy brief moments in the sun before crashing into the proverbial sea, Sam Rockwell stands apart.
The 47-year-old has amassed a steady and impressive career over multiple decades in the business, traversing movies big (“Iron Man 2”) and small (“Moon”), while maintaining a public image defined by a notable sense of humor (dancing with Jimmy Fallon, impersonating Christopher Walken on “The Talk”).
“You can’t take yourself too seriously, unless you’re very fortunate and have a really fortunate career,” says Rockwell, who stars as a lovable hit man who falls for Anna Kendrick in the action rom-com “Mr. Right,” out in theaters tomorrow.
“There’s so many ebbs and flows in a movie career, or a theater career, if you took yourself too seriously you’d be foolish. ... I’m fortunate,” he adds.” “I don’t know if I would’ve done well with the explosion of fame some actors experience in their 20s and 30s.”
In keeping with the lack of self-seriousness that has to a large extent defined him, Rockwell dances in so many movies that he’s become something of an Internet meme.
He’s up to more of the same in “Mr. Right.”
“Probably too much,” Rockwell says of his on-screen boogeying. “I have done that. It’s become now this kind of thing. Chris Walken has that as well. I think it’s fun, I’ve always loved dancing.”
In addition to dancing in “Mr. Right” and romancing Kendrick, Rockwell spends a lot of time fighting off bad guys in intricately choreographed action scenes.
“I’ve done fight scenes in films before, but I hadn’t done this many. And so it was fun for me,” he says.
Clearly, Rockwell is a fun-loving guy. But that’s not to suggest the veteran, who cut his teeth at the iconic William Esper Studio in midtown and recently completed a run on Broadway opposite Nina Arianda in “Fool for Love,” isn’t deadly serious about his craft.
He bemoans the lack of serious theatrical training among many of his fellow film actors, citing the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and Billy Crudup as heirs to a tradition stretching back to Meryl Streep, Marlon Brando and beyond.
“I don’t know if we have as much of that apprenticeship in America as we need,” he says.
And when asked where he hopes to be in 10 years, Rockwell’s response is telling: “I just want to do what I was trained to do, and build a character.”