All the times Sam Rockwell wowed on Broadway and the small screen
Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell landed one of his first big roles in the Sundance hit Box of Moonlight in 1997. This film opened many doors to Rockwell’s illustrious career. Now, he’s notably recognized for winning the Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics Choice, and Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Officer Dixon in the 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
However, the actor has been part of the theatre community for decades. Rockwell has been a leading man on stage since 1998, and he just got a 2022 Tony Award nomination for commanding the stage as Teach in American Buffalo on Broadway. Here’s a rundown of Rockwell’s theatre and television resume.
In one of Rockwell’s earlier stage gigs, the actor played Vernon in a 1998 staging of this Mike Leigh play. Goose-Pimples has been described as a look at the upwardly mobile working class in the suburbs of London under British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s government in the early 1980s. Goose-Pimples played at the Irish Repertory Theatre.
The Dumb Waiter
In the summer of 2001, Rockwell headed to the Williamstown Theatre Festival to star as Jerry in this Harold Pinter one-act play directed by Joe Mantello. The Dumb Waiter is one of Pinter’s earliest plays. The Dumb Waiter presented at the festival alongside another one-act play, Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story.
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
In 2005, a young Rockwell scored the title role in the world premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. The Last Days follows the story of a lawyer who appeals the case of God and the Kingdom of Heaven vs. Judas Iscariot set in a near-Purgatory courtroom. Philip Seymour Hoffman directed Stephen Adly Guirgis’s play off Broadway at The Public Theater.
A Behanding in Spokane
Sam Rockwell played Mervyn, an overly curious hotel clerk, in this 2010 dark comedy by English playwright Martin McDonagh (whose play Hangmen is currently on Broadway). A Behanding in Spokane follows a man who searches for missing hand. The A Behanding in Spokane cast included Christopher Walken as the elderly man alongside Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan as two money-hungry con artists. A Behanding in Spokane was McDonagh’s first American-set play.
Fool for Love
In 2015 Rockwell took the stage at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in Sam Shepard’s emotional 1983 drama Fool For Love. Alongside co-star Nina Arianda, the duo played Eddie and May, troubled lovers who reunite yet again when Eddie tracks May down at a motel at the edge of the Mojave Desert. The play was a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and both Rockwell and Arianda starred in the play’s Massachusetts debut at the Williamstown Theatre in 2014 before reprising their roles on Broadway the following year.
In 2019, Rockwell joined Fosse/Verdon in this theatre-adjacent TV series, playing the role of legendary dancer/choreographer Bob Fosse. Rockwell played alongside Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams in this FX limited series that follows the trials of Gwen Verdon and Fosse’s tumultuous relationship. He’s no stranger to playing a character in deeply broken and codependent relationships; for this performance, Rockwell was nominated for Best Actor in a Limited Series or Television Film at the Golden Globes. At the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, Fosse/Verdon received 17 nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series and acting nominations for Rockwell and Williams.
In the latest Broadway revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo, Sam Rockwell gives a star performance alongside Emmy and Golden Globe winner Darren Criss and Emmy and Tony winner Laurence Fishburne. The trio play three small-time hustlers who want a bigger slice of the American dream, and they scheme to steal a valuable coin to get it. The play premiered on Broadway in 1977, receiving the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play.
American Buffalo was subsequently revived off Broadway in 1981, on Broadway in 1983, and off Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company in 2000. The latest American Buffalo production just received four Tony Award nominations — including a Best Leading Actor in a Play nod for Rockwell — and is at the Circle in the Square Theatre through July 10, 2022.