Sam Rockwell half-jokingly said that if he won the best supporting actor Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, he would finally marry his girlfriend of more than 10 years, Iron Man 2 co-star Leslie Bibb. He did take home the statuette, and a source who knows the couple says, “Sam’s not in a rush, and Leslie says she’s fine the way things are, but who knows — a promise is a promise.”
You can’t blame Sam, 49, for wanting to take a pause and enjoy his moment of glory. After all, he’s been toiling as a character actor for years, earning raves but not much money or fame for films like 2009’s sci-fi cult fave Moon and 2002’s Chuck Barris biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. “I think of myself as a journeyman actor,” says Sam. “I’ve got some talent, and I work hard.”
Sam and his girlfriend, Leslie.
It’s been a tough journey for Sam since his childhood, which he spent shuttling between his actor dad in the San Francisco area and his artist mother in NYC. “I just wanted to get stoned, flirt with girls, and go to parties,” says Sam. He discovered acting at the San Francisco School of the Arts, where classmates included comedians Aisha Tyler and Margaret Cho.
“He’s always had star quality, even when he was a kid,” Margaret tells Closer. “That’s what’s amazing about him.” When director Martin McDonagh cast Sam as Three Billboards‘ deputy, it finally allowed him to show his dazzling range. The character’s arc, Sam says, takes him from a bumbling Barney Fife type to a Travis Bickle-like vigilante. Next he’ll play George W. Bush opposite Christian Bale in a Dick Cheney biopic.
Sam and the cast of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
After that, perhaps he’ll tackle his most meaningful role yet: husband. “You light my fire, baby,” he told Leslie, 43, in his Academy Awards acceptance speech. “I love you.” Now that’s a Hollywood ending.
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