Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell during his acceptance speech at the 90th annual Oscars. Photo: ABC

Sam Rockwell dedicated his supporting-actor Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” to Philip Seymour Hoffman, telling reporters Sunday evening the late actor deeply inspired him throughout his career.

Hoffman, an Oscar winner himself for “Capote,” died in 2014 from a drug overdose.

“He’s an old friend of mine and he directed me in a play at the Public Theater, and he was very close to me. He was an inspiration to all of my peers,” Rockwell said backstage at the Dolby Theatre after collecting his prize.

“Who ever was in my age range, Phil Hoffman was the guy,” Rockwell said. “And he was a great director, and he believed in doing theater. In fact he vowed to do a play a year, which I don’t know if he got to do because he was very busy doing movies, but he was a great inspiration and a great theater director.”

Fielding questions backstage, Rockwell responded to critics who contend that “Three Billboards” fails to explore the true depth of his character’s brutal, racist past. Rockwell also said his character and the one played by Frances McDormand still have a long way to go when the film ends.

“I think for me, the whole thing is, they have a lot of work to do, Mildred and Dixon. It’s not like they are all of a sudden redeemed at the end of the movie, they have a lot of work to do,” Rockwell said. “Maybe some therapy, it’s an ongoing thing. It’s also, it’s a  movie, it’s a dark fairy tale. In real life, they probably would have gone to prison. So that’s sort of how I see it.”

Rockwell also explained the detailed research that he did for the film, which included work with a dialect coach, ridealongs with officers and speaking to burn victims because his character is seriously burned in the film at one point. He said the several months preparation, which isn’t always possible because sometimes roles are landed with only weeks or days to prepare, was a luxury.

“I had the advantage that I had like two or three months, so I got to indulge in all this research,” Rockwell said.

–City News Service

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