Sam Rockwell Steps Into the Limelight


The atrium of the Bowery Hotel in Lower Manhattan is extremely dim, aside from a few spots, including the glowing iPhone Sam Rockwell holds in his palm. It’s a Friday evening, and he’s giving me a rodeo demonstration of a sort, showing me a slow-motion video of some downtime on the set of the Nazi farce Jojo Rabbit. Rockwell plays a closeted gay officer in the film, disillusioned with the regime; in the video on his phone, the actor appears in half costume, standing in jodhpurs on a windy hilltop outside Prague, rope in hand, churning a lariat in an even circle.

“You have to make your hand like a cobra—keep your palm down, see?” the actor tells me. “This is a head rope, here— I’m not sure I could do a heel rope.” Seconds later, the video shows Rockwell flinging the loop, landing it cleanly around the torso of Roman Griffin Davis,…

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