Date of Birth: November 5, 1968
Known for his dynamic leading performances in the independent film world, Sam Rockwell was
born in Daly City, California, and experienced a bohemian upbringing. The son of artist-actors, Rockwell moved to New York City with his parents when he was two. After three years in the Big Apple, his parents got divorced. His father moved to San Francisco, so Rockwell spent much
of his youth traveling back and forth between his parents.
His mother, whose unconventional lifestylereplete with sex, drugs, and flamboyant hippiesintroduced Rockwell to some very unorthodox adult pastimes at an extremely young age. But it was through his mother that he became involved in theater, making his stage debut at the age of ten.
He later attended San Francisco's High School of the Performing Arts, where at the age of 18, he made his film debut in Clown House (1988), an ill-fated thriller revolving around three brothers' fight to the death with a group of maniacal circus entertainers.
Other stage credits include Face Divided as part of the EST Marathon series and the off-Broadway production of Goosepimples.
Following his screen debut, Rockwell moved to New York and proceeded to make 20 more films,
including Last Exit to Brooklyn (1990) and Tom Di Cillo's Box of Moonlight (1996).
It was the actor's work in Box of Moonlight that first won him recognition. Rockwell gave an engaging performance that sparked industry attention; unfortunately, the independent film disappeared at the box office.
Although unrewarded in his efforts, Rockwell continued to work in the indi-film industry.
In John Duigan's Lawn Dogs, he starred as a lonely outsider who forms a controversial alliance with a rebellious ten-year-old girl. His performance earned Rockwell Best Actor awards at both the Montréal and Barcelona Film Festivals. He also starred opposite Steve
Zahn, Harvey Fierstein and Michael Lerner in Safe Men. The comedy, about a pair of untalented singers who, through a case of mistaken identity, get caught up with the Jewish mafia, was a critical favorite and enjoys a loyal cult following. Rockwell also starred in Saul Rubinek's dark comedy Jerry and Tom as a used-car salesman who moonlights as a part-time hit man. The three independent films would gain him considerable notice.
As a result of these films, Rockwell made the jump to big-budget features. Films such as
Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998) and Michael Hoffman's A Midsummer Night's Dream
(1999) with Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer would introduce him to the mainstream audiences while
roles in Galaxy Quest (1999) and The Green Mile (1999) would mark his successful
transition into mainstream film industry. More recently, he's made appearances in major Hollywood films such as Iron Man 2 (2010) and Cowboys & Aliens (2011) with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig.
On television, Rockwell appeared in the HBO special Dead Drunk and episodes of NYPD Blue, Law & Order and The Equalizer.