Sam Rockwell Set to Play The Eel, Reuniting with The Way, Way Back Gang


Sam Rockwell has been a regular at Sundance for many many years, appearing in movies like Choke, Moon and last year’s The Way, Way Back, the directorial debut by The Descendants‘ Oscar-winning co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. This year, Rockwell is appearing in Lynn Shelton’s new movie Laggies, which is premiering tonight.

Deadline has the scoop that Rockwell will be reuniting with some of the filmmakers behind The Way, Way Back as he has been attached to star in The Eel, a script that made it onto the Black List that’s being directed by Roberto Bentivegna. The deal was finalized just as Rockwell arrived in Park City for the premiere of Lynn Shelton’s Laggies, which co-stars Keira Knightley and Chloe Moretz.

Faxon and Rash have formed a new yet-to-be-named production company with Kevin Walsh to produce indie films like The Eel, in which Rockwell will play an escaped convict caught up in a plot by a corrupt Sheriff to kidnap a young heiress to an oil fortune.

Bentivegna is a winner of the Alfred P. Sloan screenwriting award at Columbia University, currently co-writing Spirit House with Chase Palmer for FilmNation. The Eel will start filming in the fall somewhere in the Southwest as Bentivegna is in Park City meeting with investors.

Deadline‘s Mike Fleming got this quote from Walsh: “Nat, Jim and I want to foster other directors and writers with this new company, and Roberto’s film gives Sam the role of a criminal on the run that reminded us of Drive and Cool Hand Luke. The Way Way Back was also a Black List script, and that one had everyone from Alex Payne to Tom Bezucha and Shawn Levy in the mix but it took us eight years to core it down and take a grass roots approach to get it made, and that’s what we’re doing here. Last year’s festival was insane, the movie screened at 3, and by the time we got off the stage after the Q&A, I turned on my phone and had 500 e-mails and five offers, already at $4 million. My fiancé and my friends from Boston were here, and while I got them to the party, I went right to the condo with the financiers, CAA and WME, and we didn’t leave the condo until 6 in the morning. I woke up the filmmakers to tell them this film we’d made for $4.75 million had sold for $9.75 million domestic and $11.3 million with foreign. Given how long it took to get it made, it was an unforgettable night.”

Rockwell is arriving in Park City the day after attending the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics Choice Movie Awards, where he received a nomination as Best Actor in a Comedy for The Way, Way Back.

(Photo source: Brian To/