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Sam Rockwell's 'Confessions'

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AP
Most moviegoers know Sam Rockwell's face, but they don't always remember his name.

That is about to change. With his leading role in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," Rockwell plays Chuck Barris, the former "Gong Show" host who claims he was an assassin for the CIA.

Rockwell visited The Early Show to discuss his leading role in George Clooney's directorial movie debut.

"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" is an adaptation of the "unauthorized autobiography" of Chuck Barris, creator and host of such television classics as "The Dating Game," "The Gong Show" and other shows. In the book, Barris claims to have worked for the CIA as a hitman — killing 33 people — at the same time that he was working on TV.

Rockwell may be recognizable to independent movie audiences from films such as "Lawn Dogs," "Safe Men" and "Jerry and Tom." But "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" will introduce him to a whole new audience.

Rockwell explains that he won the role of Barris because of timing. Clooney produced and had a small part in a film, "Welcome to Collinwood," that starred Rockwell. At the time, Clooney was developing the film on Barris and he thought Rockwell was perfect for the lead role. The director says he didn't want someone too famous to play the role.

Rockwell says he prepared for the role by spending time with the self-proclaimed spy. The actor says he didn't want to impersonate Barris, but use some characteristics of the man to help move the scenes along. Rockwell says that with his time with Barris, he was able to appreciate the innovation and revolutionary ideas Barris brought to television.

Rockwell's next film is Ridley Scott's "Matchstick Men" in which he plays a protégé of a con man acted by Nicolas Cage.

Some Facts About Sam Rockwell

  • Born Nov. 5, 1968, in Daly City, Calif.
  • His mother and father were both actors; the family moved to New York when Rockwell was 2 years old, living first in the Bronx and later in Manhattan
  • Rockwell made his acting debut at 10 alongside his mother
  • While still in high school, Rockwell received his first big break when he appeared in the Francis Ford Coppola made-for-television film, "Clownhouse" (1988)
  • Rockwell's additional big screen credits include "Galaxy Quest," Woody Allen's "Celebrity," Michael Hoffman's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Tom DiCillo's "Box of Moonlight," Paul Schrader's "Light Sleeper" and Uli Edel's "Last Exit to Brooklyn" — to name a few.