Sam Rockwell plays Owen, the manager of a Water Wizz water park in The Way, Way Back, the character being based on Bill Murray’s Tripper in the movie Meatballs. Here’s what he had to say in an interview with Vulture about basing a character off other characters without being derivative:
“There are prototypes for every character, everything I’ve done. Everything’s been done before, you know?
“When I met Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon, I think one of the reasons I got the job is because I said, ‘Oh! You need Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. You need Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men. That’s what you need here.’ And I saw his eyes kind of light up, like, ‘Oh, yeah! This guy understands what I’m looking for.’
“It’s a quick kind of shorthand with filmmakers to reference films, because it’s part of the vocabulary. But you want to be careful — you don’t want to do a carbon copy of a carbon copy, you want to draw from real life. That’s why it’s important to watch documentaries and watch real people. When you’re playing a drunk, to research playing a drunk, you don’t get drunk. You go to a bar and you drink Coca-Cola and watch drunks.”
I can’t wait to see The Way, Way Back – we had tickets for an early screening last week but weren’t able to go. I’ll let you know what I think after I see it.