Movie Article

Sam Rockwell makes a splash

THE WAY, WAY BACK • JULY 5

In the Sundance crowd-pleaser The Way, Way Back, an awkward teen named Duncan (Liam James) gets stuck on a miserable vacation with his mom (Toni Collette) and her bullying boyfriend (Steve Carell), who crushes Duncan by labeling him a measly 3 on a 10-point scale of coolness. Fortunately, Duncan finds solace at the run-down local water park, run by the fast-talking Owen (Sam Rockwell). In this excerpt from the script — by Oscar-winning writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (The Descendants), who also codirected the movie — Owen sizes up the lonely 3 and decides to turn him into a 10.

EXT. WATER PARK - EMPLOYEE LOUNGE - THE NEXT DAY*

Duncan is back on the edge of the same PICNIC TABLE, still sporting the jeans and T-shirt look.

OWEN (O.S.)

I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave.

Duncan looks back over his shoulder.
DUNCAN**

... What?

OWEN

Yeah, you're going to have to take off. I'm getting complaints. You're having too much fun. It's making everyone uncomfortable.

DUNCAN

Oh. ... Okay.

Duncan actually gets up, starts out. Owen is genuinely thrown by Duncan's reaction... Stifles a laugh.

OWEN
Whoa. Wait...
(laughs)

I'm sorry. I shouldn't be... I didn't think you would actually...

Duncan's not sure what's going on. Owen gathers himself. He found that very endearing and funny.

OWEN (CONT'D)***
(gesturing him to follow)
Come on...

Duncan seems reticent. More confused, really.

OWEN (CONT'D)

Look, I can tell you're in complete awe of that picnic table. It is one-of-a-kind except for the 200 exactly like it around here. But, there is more park to be seen.

Finally, Duncan complies, follows.

OWEN (CONT'D)

First things first. As much as I'm a fan of Tuff Skins, we've got to get you a swimsuit. Seriously, when's the last time you bought jeans?

DUNCAN

Oh, my mom buys my jeans...

OWEN+++
Good. Always take things literally. How's that working out for you? You getting laid?

* Water Wizz, an actual water park in Massachusetts, ''just felt like a great place to give our main character sort of an Oz, an escape,'' says Rash.

** The writers imagined Duncan as tall, pale, and skinny, with a concave chest and shoulders. ''We lucked out with Liam,'' half-jokes Faxon.

***The directors were anxious until Rockwell and James finally read together. ''It's a wonderful moment when you realize [the actors' chemistry is] exactly as you imagined,'' says Faxon.

+++Owen is ''sort of what Bill Murray was for us in Meatballs,'' says Rash, ''this charismatic person who was cool and popular — with women as well — and who has a strange confidence.''

Originally posted May 24, 2013 Published in issue #1261-1262 May 31, 2013 Order article reprints
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