I love this interview, Sam Rockwell Meisner acting all the way! Sam and I continue to work together to this day. The responses highlight Sam’s heart and knowledge of the craft, old school actor mentality with a zen spirit. He is an incredible scene partner. Focused and determined to elevate a scene with his vision. They say it takes twenty years to become a great actor, Sam is it. Great. I can’t thank him enough for talking about our work together.
Mr. Rockwell, what was the smartest thing that you did in your career?
It was probably studying acting with William Esper. I did that for two years when I was 24 years old in ’91. I was in desperate need of training and I had done theater, but I needed some training.
I studied Meisner for two years and then I met my acting coach there, Terry Knickerbocker. I still coach with Terry. It’s been a huge thing for me.
Was studying acting about learning technique or did it also influence the way you approach your work in general?
It’s everything. It’s the foundation; it’s the discipline. Acting is a discipline like anything else, you know? If it’s done well, like carpentry or anything else, there’s a discipline to it, a science to it.
An art to it?
Hopefully, it’s an artsy job. (Laughs) I think it’s important that it’s fulfilling, that there’s a Zen quality to it. I don’t think there’s enough of an apprenticeship in acting these days, except maybe in London or Chicago. There’s an apprenticeship in the theater that doesn’t really happen as much in the movies. It used to be that a lot of movie stars came from the theater, you know?
Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep…
Exactly. Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall… all those guys. Gene Hackman.
Receive the latest news about our studio and upcoming events