...claudine ko

Sam Rockwell
Jane, November 2000

Sam Rockwell dates starlets, makes fart jokes and has his nails done. Claudine Ko doesn't.

"Who the hell is Sam Rockwell?" has a nice ring to it, no? After Jane assigned this Q&A everyone ran around the office yelling it until Vince Vaughn, who shares Sam's publicist, called us to clarify: "I know Sam Rockwell. Who doesn't know Sam Rockwell? Sam Rockwell is great!" Thanks, Vince. But for those of us who missed the proverbial boat, I did some homework, met him at a cafe near his Greenwich Village apartment and found out.

Sam's the erstwhile indie boy whose 11-year 26-film career spans roles from Head Thug in 1990's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to the guy who lets it all hang out in "Box of Moonlight" and "Lawn Dogs" to the self-proclaimed "pus ball" in "The Green Mile" who hocks a loogie in Tom Hank's face (my favorite part). And he's damn good. This month, Sam comes out as Drew Barrymore's lovable yet nerdy boyfriend in "Charlie's Angels"

I find the 32-year-old actor in the back of the cafe using the pay phone (10 points for not having a cellular) two minutes before meeting time (10 more for being prompt). When he joined me at a table outside with messy hair and wrinkled clothes, I thought,"This Sam Rockwell could be pretty interesting".

What's up with you showing your naked butt and penis in all these movies?
(Laughs) It's a coincidence. They were just good roles.

Did you care about taking it all off?
I cared, I went to the gym. I'm not as hung up about it as some people are. I just don't want to do it anymore on film.

Aw, how come?
Because then people in interviews ask you, "Why are you doing this?" It's not why I became an actor.

So, what other movies do you get naked in?
Well, there's my porno career (laughs)

What do you do in your free time?
Oh, well, I spend time with this woman.

Who is this woman?
I don't know if I should mention her name yet. It's a new fresh thing. She is an actress. I like her a lot.

And what kind of boyfriend are you?
I'm a little out of practice, so I don't really know.

I hear a rumor-there are rumors about you, ya know.
Really? I'd like to hear all of them.

I heard that you've dated a string of starlets.
Who did.....What'd you hear? Wh-wh-who?

It's a rumor.
I haven't actually. There was one woman I, uh, but I can't, I wish I could tell you. But I can't, cause it's complicated. No, there are two.....there are two besides Sarita (Choudhury, from "Mississippi Masala") but in both instances I can't tell you. I really wish I could because it's a funny anecdote, but I can't because..........

Because they will come and get you afterward?
It's really complicated. I didn't really date either of these women, I just--

Just stalked them?
No. Actually, no. I wish I could say more.

That's all right. How was it dating Drew Barrymore....as your character in "Charlie's Angels"?
It was great. My character was kind of like Steve Jobs--a distracted computer genius-but we gave it a twist, an edge. Kind of like me. And Drew was just so open to what I had to say. Yeah, I love her. I love all those ladies, man. Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz. We just got along so well.

So what we heard about on-set run-ins really was crap?
Bill Murray and Lucy had a little spat about the script, a very minor thing. Nobody stormed off. There was no real script, that was the problem. But I was in the Barrymore Cocoon, and if I wasn't with Drew, I was swing dancing with Lucy or, you know, making fart jokes.

What was the craziest thing you ever did as a kid?
My mom told me I fell down a flight of stairs, landed on my head, got up and was fine. But maybe I wasn't so fine.

Those are my favorite kinds of kids, the ones who fall down a flight of stairs and laugh. Of course, they wind up with brain damage 20 years later.
That's what happened to me, I think.

Are you content with being a great actor vs. a rich and famous actor?
I'm content with being a good actor, or a half-decent actor.

No, I think you're a great actor.
Oh, thanks. thanks a lot. Thank you.

Are you a yuppie yet?
Technically I am.

How so?
I'm a young urban professional. I see my therapist.

And you eat Power Bars (he takes a bite of his).
I eat Power bars. I'm a young urban professional, but I don't have a nice enough apartment to be a yuppie.

You have a manicure. For the movie?
How did you know I had a manicure? Wow.

Because your nails are nicer then mine.
It's for the character I'm playing in a David Mamet film "the Heist". He's a gangster, a Jewish Italian gangster.

And Jewish Italian gangsters get a lot of manicures?
I think this guy does: His name is Jimmy Silk. He doesn't fuck around.

So not only are you a yuppie, you're a yuppie woman.
I am.