Fans of Iron Man comics may have a different perception of Justin Hammer. The character in the comic books bears little resemblance to actor Sam Rockwell. Yet Rockwell will play Hammer in Iron Man 2, so get used to it.
Sam Rockwell is Justin Hammer
“Younger, hipper and fancier,” Rockwell joked. “Justin Hammer is like a rival to Tony Stark. He’s an arms dealer and that’s basically the deal. He’s here to take down Tony Stark.”
From the start, Hammer went from an aging Brit to a young American, and he’s still evolving. “He morphed into something that we didn’t know he was going to and it’s still developing and it will be in the editing room. I don’t know how he’s going to turn out.”
A veteran of indie films, Rockwell was accustomed to some of the avant-garde acting tricks some of his Iron Man 2 costars wanted to employ. “The first scene that we do in the film, Mickey [Rourke] suggested that we not meet until we shot that scene because our characters meet in the scene. Never spoken to him. Jon Favreau relayed this to me and said, ‘Mickey doesn’t want to rehearse, he doesn’t want to meet before that first scene.’ And after that we did rehearse and work in a more conventional way but for that first scene where our characters meet, we didn’t meet until right before we started rolling camera. Had no idea. I worked out my props and stuff, we didn’t rehearse, I got there a little bit early and worked it out, because I had a lot of dialogue and I had a lot of stuff to deal with. And the way the scene is, he enters and I'm already there. So he came in, we shook hands and then they said action and we got into it.”
For his own performance, Rockwell went to some unusual source material as well. “I watched Amadeus. The Salieri character is similar. It was being developed so I wasn't sure where the character was going, so I watched a lot of actors like Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and George C. Scott in Hustler. I watched Bill Murray in Kingpin. I was trying to get a lot of different things to incorporate. And I did some research on the guns and learned how to handle the guns and talk about the guns and stuff, and that was really all I had to work on. I worked on it the way I worked on everything was with an acting coach named Terry Knickerbocker and we worked on it together. I would get certain scenes and we’d work on it, do some homework and then those scenes would change.”