Sam Rockwell

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Interviewed by Nev Pierce

He's been in "Charlie's Angels" and "Heist", but Sam Rockwell remains Hollywood's best kept secret. But all that's about to change, with his starring role as hit TV-producer-turned-hitman Chuck Barris in George Clooney's directorial debut "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind".

What was it like to research your role with Chuck Barris?

It was great. Chuck's a really warm guy. He's a very funny guy to hang out with, so I spent about two-and-a-half-months with him. He taped my lines and we hung out a lot and did dinner. He was really generous with himself and he was really sweet about hanging out. Chuck trusted George implicitly and George trusted me - so Chuck trusted me too.

What did you come away with?

As George says, we had to act as his defence attorney. We didn't want to know too much about the CIA stuff because we wanted to tell his story. We didn't want to be biased. We wanted to tell [scriptwriter] Charlie Kaufman's version of his story, too, which uses a little poetic licence.

How did it feel to have George Clooney working so hard to get you this role?

It was kind of moving. It's amazing. It's rare in Hollywood that someone will bat for you in the way that George did, so I didn't want to disappoint him. It was a big thrill, though. I can't go on enough about what George did for me. It's pretty phenomenal.

What was George like as a boss?

He has a great generosity of spirit and he brings that to his work. He's very compassionate to all the actors on the set. He's really smart. He came in very well prepared and he didn't leave any rock unturned. He did his homework.

Chuck Barris has been accused of taking American television into the gutter. What do you think of television in the US today?

The Gong Show and The Dating Game were the seed for a lot of the reality shows today, but these shows now are much more mean-spirited. The Gong Show is a much more innocent kind of show. Although he did exploit people, I think it was a funner atmosphere. It was entertainment. The Gong Show was like a big party.