Sam Rockwell Interview: ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’
“I think it was just a no-brainer. When you open one of Martin McDonagh‘s scripts, it’s like opening up a Christmas present,” reveals Sam Rockwell about first seeing the screenplay for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” In our recent webcam interview (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “You turn each page, and it’s a beautiful thing that happens. By the end of it, you’re blown away. It’s a real work of art, his writing.” In the chat, Rockwell compares McDonagh to Harold Pinter, David Mamet, Quentin Taranantino, and Sam Shepard.
Rockwell plays racist police officer Jason Dixon in the small fictional town of Ebbing. As the film opens, Mildred Hayes (Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winner Frances McDormand) is driving near her home and discovers three dilapidated billboards on a rural road. She decides to paint advertising on them that fights back at the local police department for not finding the murderer of her daughter. This action infuriates many people, including Dixon, who tries everything he can to make her life miserable because of her disrespect for law enforcement. Others in the movie include Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, and Clarke Peters.
Regarding his character, Rockwell says, “He’s immature. He hasn’t quite grown up yet, and in the course of the movie he grows up a little bit. He’s forced to change through a series of events… He has a lot of rage, a lot of anger in him and it’s more about self-hatred. I think that gets directed outward towards other people.”
Rockwell has worked with writer and director McDonagh previously on “Seven Psychopaths” (2012). For this new A24 release, Rockwell won as Best Supporting Actor this weekend at the Hollywood Film Awards. His breakthrough role in 2002 was starring as game show creator Chuck Barris in the George Clooney film “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” He is a two-time Screen Actors Guild nominee as part of the ensembles of “The Green Mile” (1999) and “Frost/Nixon” (2008).