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Sam Rockwell Goes All ‘The Way, Way Back’ in New Movie

September 3, 2013 by  

One of the most dynamic actors working today, Sam Rockwell (“Iron Man 2,” “Space Cowboys”) stars as Owen, the quirky mentor to an awkward, self-conscious teen who must learn to embrace his individuality, in Fox Searchlight’s inspiring comedy-drama “The Way, Way Back.”

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A humorous and heartwarming story of self-discovery from Academy Award® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (“The Descendants”), “The Way, Way Back” will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas starting Sept. 11.

“We had a phone meeting scheduled with Sam and we were all ready to give him our spiel,” recalls Rash. “But almost immediately he just said ‘sounds great guys, let’s just do this.’”

“The Way, Way Back” is the coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan’s (Liam James) summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell). Having a rough time fitting in, the introverted Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen (Rockwell), the gregarious manager of the Water Wizz Water Park. Through his funny, clandestine friendship with Owen, Duncan slowly opens up to and begins to finally find his place in the world—all during a summer he will never forget.

It was the script and especially the character – a wisecracking motor mouth with a heart of gold – that convinced Rockwell to take the role. “For me, it’s always the part that matters, and this is a great one,” he says. “Then when I met Nat and Jim, they were awesome. Working with directors who are also actors is always easier I think. There’s shorthand and empathy there. We didn’t stray very much from the script but they were tweaking as we went and honing the comic timing.”

Owen runs the Water Wizz Water Park, and serves as unofficial camp counselor to the kids who hang out there. “He takes a lot of them under his wing,” says Rockwell. “Duncan is pretty shy and it becomes Owen’s mission to expand his horizons. The trouble with Owen is that he doesn’t take anything too seriously. Life is just non-stop giggles for him. At first Duncan doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor and that perplexes Owen. He decides to teach the kid to take more chances and carpe diem.”

But Owen’s devil-may-care approach to life doesn’t always work out for him, Rockwell observes. “It gets him in trouble with a woman he cares about. He can’t seem to get it together when it comes to her. Like a lot of comedians, he developed a veneer of silliness to push away any real feelings.”

Rockwell, known to be a fast-talking comedy whirlwind, made his own contributions to the dialogue, according to producer Tom Rice. “Sam Rockwell is one of the most brilliant improvisers I have ever seen,” says the producer. “Every take was just a little different and he never once missed the mark. I’ve never seen somebody improv so successfully before. He is unbelievably funny.”

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Conclides Rash: “Sam has a natural charisma that is perfect for this role. He could improvise comic bits all day and also handle the more serious moments. Owen really recognizes himself in Duncan.”

“The Way, Way Back” is distributed by 20th Century Fox through Warner Bros.


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