In the 1990s, movie theaters were clogged with “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” knockoffs about cool hitmen. Sam Rockwell wasn’t doing those. Back then he was doing a lot of serious indies, like “Lawn Dogs” and “Box of Moonlight.” The closest he came was in the crime comedy “Safe Men.” In “Mr. Right” he gets to correct that. He plays a legendary assassin who falls for a recently dumped young woman (Anna Kendrick) — right as he’s pursued by a crime syndicate. Rockwell tells us he was mostly influenced by “Grosse Pointe Blank,” another black comedy about a hitman with a softer side. And it gave the actor, 47, the chance to stay active.
“Mr. Right” requires a lot of acrobatic shoot-out scenes. That's a new thing for you.
It was a lot of fun. I’ve always been a kind of would-be dancer, and I’ve been interested in boxing for a long time. So I had just had fun with it. We didn’t have the budget to choreograph that many fight scenes. We only had a week to do five or six fight scenes, where you usually have a month for something like “Mission: Impossible.” So we had our work cut out for us.
Did you do most of your stunts?
I did a lot of the [stunts], actually. [But] my double did all those high kicks and the more dangerous stuff, like, falling down stairs — he’s a young kid, he can f—ing handle it. He’s a tough kid.
Did you get hurt?
Nothing serious. [Co-star] Tim Roth and I bumped heads a couple times. One of the stunt guys oversold a punch and he had about eight stitches. He had to go to the emergency ward later. These guys are so tough — he worked all day after he’d been cut open. He didn’t go to the hospital until the end of the day. Stunt guys aren’t allowed to complain, you know? It’s not cool. They can’t complain.
I’ve been punched while rehearsing a play before. I did not wait to the end of the day to patch up my wounds.
Yeah, I’ve been punched in the face a couple times. I’ve sparred. When I was a kid I got beat up. I think if you’re living your life and doing stuff, you’re gonna get hurt. Even in your apartment. I broke my toe just rushing around my apartment, brushing my teeth. You can get hurt doing anything, even just waking up in the morning. Life just beats you down, you know?