If Sam Rockwell has seemed invincible throughout the awards season leading up to the 2018 Oscars, then it came as no surprise when he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, besting even his own co-star, fellow nominee Woody Harrelson.
In his acceptance speech, Rockwell thanked his fellow nominees, saying, "You inspire me. You always have."
He also told a sweet story about playing hooky from school with his father.
"When I was eight years old, I was called into the principal's office and my father was looking very solemn. And he said, 'We gotta go, it's Grandma,'" Rockwell began. "We got in the car and I said, 'What's wrong with Grandma.' And he said, 'Nothing, we going to the movies.' My mom and dad's love of movies became my love of movies, so thank you for that, Mom and Dad. I love you."
Rockwell concluded with a shout-out to his "beloved Leslie Bibb."
"You light my fire, baby," he gushed. "I love you."
Three Billboards is one of the most-nominated films of 2018, with seven total nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress for Frances McDormand, Best Supporting Actor nods for both Rockwell and Harrelson, Best Original Screenplay for writer-director Martin McDonagh, Original Score and Film Editing.
Rockwell previously won the Best Supporting Actor award at BAFTA, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, cementing himself as the frontrunner to eventually win the Oscar. When he won the Globe, he used his acceptance speech to praise McDormand for making him a better actor.
"You're a badass. You're a force of nature," Rockwell gushed. "It was really fun to be your sparring partner, and thanks for making me a better actor."
Though Rockwell has long been considered the favorite to win the Academy Award, criticism against Rockwell's character and Three Billboards increased following the film's release, with many viewers taking issue with the film's handling of race. McDonagh responded, saying the movie is supposed to be "deliberately messy."
"It mostly comes from the idea of Sam Rockwell’s character, who’s a racist, bigoted a**hole, that his character is seemingly being redeemed, maybe," McDonagh told Entertainment Weekly. "I don’t think his character is redeemed at all. He starts off as a racist jerk. He's the same pretty much at the end, but, by the end, he's seen that he has to change. There is room for it, and he has, to a degree, seen the error of his ways, but in no way is he supposed to become some sort of redeemed hero of the piece."
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