Sam Rockwell wants to dance. He’s having his photograph taken in a 120-year-old warehouse in Brooklyn but it’s a warm day and he’s starting to feel lethargy creep through his bones. “What music have we got?” he asks. “We need to wake up. Have you got any James Brown?”
Somebody fiddles with an iPhone and soon the godfather of soul is echoing off the exposed brickwork. This is Rockwell’s jam. He starts rolling his shoulders and then his feet follow, moonwalking him across the dusty floor. If you’ve seen a Sam Rockwell film in the past 20 years you’ve probably noticed the way he moves. He danced his way from his indie breakthrough in 1997’s Lawn Dogs to blockbusters such as Iron Man 2. He danced to wind-up Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men and to impress George Clooney in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Even when his character was sick and depressed in Moon he still managed to throw some shapes to Walking on Sunshine.
Like a lot of teenage boys, he started dancing to impress a girl. Her name was Michaela, and he met her at a school dance. Until then he’d been a shy kid who smoked a lot of weed, but that changed when his friends Leroy and Charles started taking him to parties. “I tried to get over my shyness by dancing, and that’s what happened,” he says. He runs a hand through his beard and smiles at the memory. “I’ve been dancing ever since.”