You might not think of Sam Rockwell as the immediate choice to play director-choreographer Bob Fosse, having appeared on Broadway in two straight plays and carving much of his career in film and television. But the Oscar winner takes on the Broadway legend (opposite Michelle Williams’ Gwen Verdon) in the new limited bio-series Fosse/Verdon, which premieres April 9 on FX. The actor stopped by CBS Sunday Morning April 7 to talk about the role, what drew him to it, and how he captures the Fosse magic.
Rockwell was drawn to play Fosse because of his “charisma. There’s a kind of cool guy thing about him. He was a genius and yet he was also really messed up,” he said.
When he whips out the moves on the small screen—and when he speaks in that Fosse tambor—it’s clear he’s done his research. “I’ve gone to therapy; I have an acting coach; I have a dialect coach; I have a voice coach. I don’t do it alone,” he said. “There is a lot that goes into it, you don’t just show up.”
Rockwell is a self-taught dancer, having grown up on films like Footloose (“I fancied myself a young Kevin Bacon,” he said). But he also grew up around the theatre; his mother was a stage actor.
“You’re backstage with people, and it’s a vaudeville existence,” he explained. “I think it makes you wiser, and it also makes you a little strange. When you go back to the middle-class life or working-class life when you're at school with kids who are having a normal existence, you related to them a little differently.”
Whether it’s his upbringing, his research, or just a natural inclination, Rockwell slips into his latest character, proving he’s got all that jazz and more.
Tune in to Playbill’s Facebook page at approximately 5:30PM ET April 8 to see Rockwell, Michelle Williams, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more speak about the show during the red carpet premiere for Fosse/Verdon.