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Sam Rockwell takes his 'shot'

In “A Single Shot” (opening Friday), Sam Rockwell plays John Moon, a backwoods hunter in West Virginia who aims at a lone deer, but his single shot hits and kills a young woman. Not only does he watch her die, but Moon then discovers a box of money near her body. Impulsively he takes it, hoping it will help him pay for a divorce lawyer to fight his wife’s divorce suit.

Unfortunately, the money belonged to a gang of tough criminals, leading to a case of the hunter becoming the hunted.

Recently, I spoke with Rockwell about the film and people making bad choices that often set them on a disastrous path.

Q: Thanks to the success of your career, you clearly are offered a lot of scripts. What was it about this one that made you want to make the film?

A: I think getting the chance to be offered any film role is a huge deal. I still feel very grateful for those opportunities. But in this case, as is always the case for me, when I know I have to do something. I just have to feel a really emotional response when I first read the material — read the script. It’s really just a very particular feeling that I think is unique to every actor. It’s hard to describe, but it’s in your gut and you just kind of got with it. If I don’t get that feeling. I won’t do it.

Q: There are many things at work here, but basically much centers on your John Moon character making a bad mistake that really changes his life forever.

A: That’s right. It’s a tough movie and touches on similar themes we have seen in noir films like ‘A Simple Plan’ or ‘No Country For Old Men.’ But we never get sick of telling that story. It’s like an Edgar Allan Poe story like ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ or [Dostoyevsky’s] ‘Crime and Punishment.’ It’s about guilt and being haunted — and hunted — and stuff like that.

Q: On a lighter note, to play this grubby-looking guy, you obviously didn’t have to spend a lot of time in hair and makeup to make this movie, did you?

A: You’d be surprised! We had to get the rustic look for Moon — plus he has to get more ghostly-looking as the movie goes on. Believe it or not, makeup is a big deal in these kinds of movies. The trick is to make it look effortless and natural.

Q: There are many scenes in ‘A Single Shot’ where you are all alone and have to express desperation and fear all by yourself. That had to be a challenging experience for you as an actor.

A: Yeah. I mean he is in a kind of denial. He’s making poor choices out of an emotional crisis. He doesn’t quite know what to do. He’s made a horrible mistake [by killing the girl and taking the crooks’ money]. I think he’s kind of living in a dream world as far as getting his family back — and mistakenly thinks that money is going to solve that problem. But, in fact, he’s kind of running away from his problem.

Come to think of it— even in less life-threatening situations — I think a lot of guys in this world often run away from their problems, instead of using common sense to solve things.