He was born in Daly City, California, the son of actors who divorced when he was five years old. He was raised by his father, Pete Rockwell, in San Francisco, while his mother, Penny Hess, stayed behind in New York (he spent his summer vacations with her). Rockwell had what The New York Times described in 1998 as a "footloose upbringing" and, at age 10, made his brief stage debut playing Humphrey Bogart in an East Villageimprov comedy sketch starring his mother.“Sam Rockwell,” by Miranda Spencer. Biography, January 2003.
He attended San Francisco School of the Arts with Margaret Cho and dropped out before graduation. He later received his high school diploma after his parents enrolled him in an Outward Bound-style alternative high school called Urban Pioneers because, as Rockwell explained, "I just wanted to get stoned, flirt with girls, go to... Read More