He haunts the mountains like a phantom, a veteran poacher with deer in his sights and the law on his trail.
Indeed, in A Single Shot, opening in limited release Friday and available on VOD, actor Sam Rockwell looks as though he's right at home as a veteran outdoorsman who keeps meat on the table with his rifle. Nothing, Rockwell says, could be further from the truth.
"I was a city kid," he says in a telephone interview. "I did a little outdoors stuff in high school with a group called Urban Pioneers. But I was mainly a concrete guy. So yeah, that was just acting."
Not that he didn't prepare for it -- or enjoy it: "There was a lot of moving around in the woods, so I got into good shape because the role was very physical," he says. "The workout regimen was intense. There were a lot of twisted ankles in the crew in the forest. We had to hike in an hour each way. The crew had to take all that equipment into the woods."
Rockwell did his own share of carrying. In the film, he plays a poacher named John Moon who accidentally shoots a woman -- and finds a huge box of cash next to her body. He takes the money, which puts him squarely in the sights of the people who lost it. For one scene, Rockwell had to carry the body up a hill. While he had a wire to assist him, he also did some takes where he shouldered the whole weight himself, just to get a feel for it.
"I asked to do it without the wire a couple of times," he says. "It was pretty heavy. I'm strong for a little guy but that was pretty hard. I had some aches and pains after that. But it was a fun character to get into and tell a story. He's very quiet.
"In some ways, he's similar to the character I played in Moon. Or Lawn Dogs -- guys who are off the grid, isolated, from the wrong side of the tracks. There are different versions of that archetype, whether it's Martin Sheen in Badlands or Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher -- the archetype of the outcast. I kept coming back to 'Tender Mercies.' It was a chance for me to do tonally something along the lines of that character, who was kind of perfect."
This interview continues on my website.