Sam Rockwell on Stage Fright, Finding Levity and Working With Tom Hanks | Actor Roundtable

"When you're doing a heavy topic, you got to have some laughs. You've got to have some levity in between. I go home and watch 'The Simpsons.'"

"You're scared all the time," Sam Rockwell told The Hollywood Reporter's Actor Roundtable of his battle with stage fright, confessing his biggest fear of all: "sucking." On his recent project, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), Rockwell said his nerves were tempered by the fact that he "had the luxury of a lot of time."

"I went down to southern Missouri and I did some ride-alongs with cops," said the actor, who praised the experience working with the local community. 

In addition to dealing with his usual stage fright, Rockwell also works to keep the mood on set light when working on a heavy topic. (Three Billboards centers on a mother seeking justice for her brutally murdered teenage daughter.) "I think when you're doing a heavy topic, you've got to have some laughs, don't you think? I mean, you've got to have some levity in between. It's too heavy for 12, 14 hours," he said. Rockwell is not the type of actor who brings his character home with him at the end of the day, telling THR that he prefers to "go home and watch The Simpsons, or something."

"I get all these rednecks," Rockwell joked of his Three Billboards character, noting his role in The Green Mile as another, a role in which he acted alongside Tom Hanks (who also appeared on the Roundtable).

"That was one of my first studio movies. Tom [Hanks] was very generous," said Rockwell, recounting that he not only had to spit in Hanks' face but that Hanks returned to the set to do off-camera work with his co-stars when he wasn't called to shoot.

When asked if he thought there was a purpose to his work as an actor, Rockwell told THR"I just want to get it done right, and show up, and entertain, and make it good."

The full Actor Roundtable also features James Franco, John Boyega, Gary Oldman and Willem Dafoe and is set to air Sunday, Jan. 28, on SundanceTV. Tune in to THR.com/roundtables for more roundtables featuring talent from the year’s top films.

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