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Sam Rockwell Honored with American Riviera Award at Santa Barbara Film Festival

Tribute celebrated his critically acclaimed performance in 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'

 

Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award winner Sam Rockwell was honored Wednesday night with the 2018 American Riviera Award at the 33rd Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF).

Rockwell was feted with the tribute celebrating his remarkable performance in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which opened in November 2017 to critical acclaim, including winning a Golden Globe Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a nomination for a BAFTA Award, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

The event opened at the Arlington Theatre with a welcome from SBIFF board president Lynda Weinman, who said, “Hello party people. It is so good to see everyone out in downtown Santa Barbara! Thanks to our Presenting Sponsor UGG and tonight’s event sponsor Bright Event Rentals.” 

Weinman then introduced Krista Smith, a first-time moderator at a SBIFF tribute interview. Smith is Vanity Fair magazine’s executive West Coast editor, de facto ambassador to Hollywood, and profiler of rising Hollywood talent for the magazine’s Vanities section.

Smith did a fast-paced, no nonsense interview with the versatile and prolific actor, who wore a dark suit with a rust colored shirt with an Indian motif design.

Smith lauded Rockwell for the 60-plus films in which he has acted that have lit up the movie screen for decades.

California-born Rockwell is known for his leading roles in "Lawn Dogs" (1997), "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" (2002), "Matchstick Men" (2003), "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (2005), "Moon" (2009), "G-Force" (2009), and "Seven Psychopaths" (2012).

He is also recognized for his supporting roles in "The Green Mile" (1999), "Galaxy Quest" (1999), "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007), "Frost/Nixon" (2008), "Conviction" (2010), "Iron Man 2" (2010), "Cowboys & Aliens" (2011), and "The Way, Way Back" (2013).

Actor Sam Rockwell speaks with a reporter Wednesday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. He was honored with the American Riviera Award by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Click to view larger
Actor Sam Rockwell speaks with a reporter Wednesday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. He was honored with the American Riviera Award by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. (Steve Kennedy /Noozhawk photo)

The American Riviera Award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema.

Rockwell joins a prestigious group of past recipients, including Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Annette Bening, Sandra Bullock, Mickey Rourke, Tommy Lee Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Bacon, and Diane Lane.

Rockwell is the son of actors who divorced when he was 5 years old. He was raised by his father, Pete Rockwell, in San Francisco, while his mother, Penny Hess, lived in New York. (He spent his summer vacations with her.) At age 10, he made his stage debut playing in an East Village improv comedy sketch starring his mother.

“Acting was in my blood," Rockwell said. "If I wasn’t acting, I would be pumping gas or busing tables. It’s a weird life. At 26 years old I was delivering burritos on a bicycle. When I was working busing tables, people would ask me, ‘Weren’t you in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?’ Which I was!

"Luckily, I had a sub-lease where I was paying $480 a month in rent, so I could continue to take acting lessons. I started to act in bigger films like "Box in Moonlight" and "The Green Mile." "Box in Moonlight" was really a turning point.” 

Actor Sam Rockwell poses for photographers Wednesday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. He was honored with the American Riviera Award by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Click to view larger
Actor Sam Rockwell poses for photographers Wednesday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. He was honored with the American Riviera Award by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. (Steve Kennedy /Noozhawk photo)

Executive Director of SBIFF Roger Durling said, “In 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,' audiences are treated to the kind of mesmerizing and extraordinary performance we have come to expect from Sam Rockwell. We are long overdue to celebrate this tremendous talent.”

The SBIFF is a nonprofit arts and education organization dedicated to making a positive impact utilizing the power of film. The festival is a year-round organization that is best known for its main film festival that takes place in February.

Over the past 32 years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 attendees and offering 11days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums.

SBIFF has expanded its year-round operation to include a variety of educational programming, fulfilling its mission to engage, enrich and inspire the community through film.

For more information, contact SBIFF, 1528 Chapala Street #203, Santa Barbara 93101, phone 805.963.0023, or visit www.sbiff.org.

Rochelle Rose is a Noozhawk contributing writer and veteran of many Santa Barbara International Film Festivals. 

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