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5 Underrated Sam Rockwell Performances

In honor of Sam Rockwell’s tremendous work in ‘A Single Shot,’ we’re looking back at five of the actor’s roles that deserve a little more attention.

Is there any such thing as too much Sam Rockwell? This year at TFF 2013, the versatile thespian was featured in two very different movies: Clark Gregg’s Trust Me, in which he had a supporting role as a sleazy Hollywood agent, and David Rosenthal’s A Single Shot, in which he played the lead. In A Single Shot, Rockwell smolders as John Moon, a desperate man who goes to unimaginable lengths to keep stolen money that he believes will win back his estranged wife and son.

Inspired by Rockwell’s intense tour-de-force performance, we take a look back at five of the actor’s most memorable roles that didn’t receive the attention they properly deserved from filmgoers.

Galaxy Quest 

I'm not even supposed to be here. I'm just "Crewman Number Six." I'm expendable. I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I've gotta get outta here.

1999 was a good year for Sam Rockwell. In addition to playing the disgusting (yet misunderstood) inmate ‘Wild Bill’ Wharton in The Green Mile, Rockwell had a showy role in the underrated comedy classic, Galaxy Quest. When the crew of actors (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman) from a famed sci-fi is abducted by a race of actual aliens looking for assistance in fighting an intergalactic war, Rockwell’s Guy Fleegman is just happy to be along for the ride. As a actor delegated to bit roles, Guy is at first delighted to be abducted along with the series stars, but he soon gloms on to the fact that, in a universe mirroring the sci-fi tv show, he is the expendable one. Rockwell is hilarious as the brash, wise-creaking sidekick who ultimately becomes one of the gang.

Charlie’s Angels 

You’re a woman, you’ve got female intuition, and you’re a detective…and you didn’t know this was going to happen?

Don’t roll your eyes. The first installment of the Charlie’s Angels franchise is insanely watchable, largely due to Sam Rockwell’s wonderful performance as the seemingly sweet software genius Eric Knox. Rockwell is mesmerizing as he bumbles his way into the heart of Drew Barrymore (“I’ll shake, you bake”) until he reveals himself to be the villain of the piece. In this dual role, Rockwell even gets to show off his famous dance moves while he gleefully tortures Barrymore’s Dylan Sanders. Being bad has never looked like more fun.


I think you’re sick, Josh.

Being a parent is challenging, but never more so than when your child is a sociopath. Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga star as Brad and Abby Cairn who just can’t figure out what to do with their nine-year-old son, Joshua, who has not taken kindly to the arrival of his new baby sister. Rockwell stuns as a father who struggles to keep his family together though one of its members is determined to destroy it. Rockwell is interesting in any genre, but we’re glad he’s returning to horror in the upcoming remake of Poltergeist next year.

Snow Angels

I'd been living for myself. God saved me from that fall. 

David Gordon Green should cast Sam Rockwell in all of his movies. This TFF 2007 movie features Rockwell as Glenn Marchand, a former alcoholic on the path to recovery. Determined to prove himself worthy of his ex-wife (Kate Beckinsale, never better) and daughter, he finds God and gets a job to be as close to them as possible. Borderline obsessive but well meaning, Glenn suffers a psychotic break after a family tragedy, and Rockwell executes Glenn’s disconnection from reality flawlessly. This stunning collaboration between Green and Rockwell is a must see for fans of either or both.


I can't spend the rest of my life in here. 

While Conviction got a lot of attention on the Festival circuit, it didn’t do well at the box office, which was a shame. Directed by Tony Goldwyn, Conviction is the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), a woman who works tirelessly to free her wrongfully convicted brother, Kenny, from prison after nearly two decades. Rockwell gives a remarkable performance as Kenny, rendering his character as both incredibly polarizing (he’s a mean drunk who mistreats women) and sympathetic. No one plays a broken man quite like Rockwell; it’s a tragedy that he wasn’t recognized properly during award season. 



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