IMDb > I Am Sam (2001)
I Am Sam
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I Am Sam (2001) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 38 | slideshow) Videos (see all 2)
I Am Sam -- Sam Dawson has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old and works at a Starbucks. He has a daughter with a homeless woman; she abandons them as soon as they leave the hospital.
I Am Sam -- A mentally retarded man fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter, and in the process teaches his cold-hearted lawyer the value of love and family.


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7.6/10   116,972 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Down 21% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Kristine Johnson (written by) &
Jessie Nelson (written by)
View company contact information for I Am Sam on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
25 January 2002 (USA) See more »
love is all you need
A mentally handicapped man fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter, and in the process teaches his cold hearted lawyer the value of love and family. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 9 wins & 9 nominations See more »
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User Reviews:
The Greatest Film I've Ever Seen See more (431 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Sean Penn ... Sam Dawson

Michelle Pfeiffer ... Rita Harrison Williams

Dakota Fanning ... Lucy Diamond Dawson

Dianne Wiest ... Annie Cassell

Loretta Devine ... Margaret Calgrove

Richard Schiff ... Mr. Turner

Laura Dern ... Randy Carpenter
Brad Silverman ... Brad (as Brad Allan Silverman)
Joseph Rosenberg ... Joe

Stanley DeSantis ... Robert

Doug Hutchison ... Ifty

Rosalind Chao ... Lily

Ken Jenkins ... Judge Philip McNeily

Wendy Phillips ... Miss Wright
Mason Lucero ... Conner Rhodes

Scott Paulin ... Duncan Rhodes

Bobby Cooper ... George
Kit McDonough ... Ms. Davis

Kimberly Scott ... Gertie

Michael B. Silver ... Dr. Jaslow

Caroline Keenan ... Rebecca

Eileen Ryan ... Estelle Dawson

Mary Steenburgen ... Dr. Blake

Marin Hinkle ... Patricia
Chase MacKenzie Bebak ... Willy Harrison
Rafer Weigel ... Bruce
Emiko Parise ... Nurse

Pamela Dunlap ... Grace

Brent Spiner ... Shoe Salesman

David Nathan Schwartz ... Principal

Kathleen Robertson ... Big Boy Waitress

Karen Bankhead ... Rita's Colleague
Janet Adderley ... Obnoxious Mom

Katie McGloin ... Cristina

Steven Maines ... Collin
Dennis Fanning ... Vice Cop
David Poynter ... Cafeteria Worker

R.D. Call ... Cop at Park

John Paizis ... Starbucks Father

Russ Fega ... Starbucks Angry Man

Erinn Goletz ... Starbucks Barista (as Erinn Seaghda Rice Goletz)

Julie Claire ... Starbucks Customer
Marnie Martin ... Starbucks Woman

Tony Abatemarco ... Court Clerk

Will Wallace ... Bill Carpenter
Scott Weintraub ... Scarecrow

Nicholas Mele ... Booking Cop
Brian Bialick ... Brian
Molly Gordon ... Callie
Nora Kroopf ... Sara
Allison Thormahlen ... Lucy Infant
Jillian Thormahlen ... Lucy Infant
Ryan Williams ... Lucy 6 Months
Felicity Ann Forbes ... Lucy 18 Months
Makindra Sherry Forbes ... Lucy 18 Months

Elle Fanning ... Lucy 2 Years
Amanda Lehaf ... Lucy 4 Years
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Roma Maffia ... First Family Court Judge (uncredited)

Michael McElroy ... (voice) (uncredited)

Clara Soyoung ... Girl in Elevator (uncredited)

Directed by
Jessie Nelson 
Writing credits
Kristine Johnson (written by) &
Jessie Nelson (written by)

Produced by
Michael De Luca .... executive producer
Lisa Demaine .... associate producer (as Lisa Campbell)
Barbara A. Hall .... co-producer
Marshall Herskovitz .... producer
Jessie Nelson .... producer
Claire Rudnick Polstein .... executive producer
David Rubin .... executive producer
Richard Solomon .... producer
Edward Zwick .... producer
Original Music by
John Powell 
Cinematography by
Elliot Davis 
Film Editing by
Richard Chew 
Casting by
Mary Gail Artz 
Barbara Cohen 
Production Design by
Aaron Osborne 
Art Direction by
Erin Cochran 
Set Decoration by
Jennifer M. Gentile 
Garrett Lewis 
Costume Design by
Susie DeSanto 
Makeup Department
Erin Braus-Guth .... assistant makeup artist (as Erin M. Braus)
Alan D'Angerio .... hair stylist: Ms. Pfeiffer (as Alan Dangerio)
Denise Fischer .... key makeup artist
Elisabeth Fry .... makeup department head
Annette Lorant .... makeup artist
Bunny Parker .... hair department head
Ronnie Specter .... makeup artist: Ms. Pfeiffer (as Ronnie Spector)
Lynda Kyle Walker .... hair assistant
Production Management
Barbara A. Hall .... unit production manager
Frank Salvino .... post-production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lisa Demaine .... first assistant director (as Lisa Campbell)
Frederic Roth .... second assistant director (as Fredric Roth)
Andrew Ward .... second second assistant director
Art Department
Ruben Abarca .... drapery foreman
George Amaroso .... swing
Mychael Bates .... property master
Robert Bernard .... graphic designer
Conrad Chitwood .... construction coordinator (as Harry Conrad Chitwood)
Lilly Frank .... on-set stand-by painter
Stephanie J. Gordon .... set designer
Peter N. Griffith .... props
Robert Hale .... head paint foreman
Hyunjin Jo .... art department assistant (as Hyunjin)
Hyunjin Jo .... origami artist
Sean Langdon .... set dressing gangboss
Brynn McQuade .... art department coordinator
Richard 'Rocky' Nichols .... assistant property master
Michael O'Donnell .... crew head
John 'Johnny O' Ornelas .... assistant property master
Gregori Renta .... lead man
Steve Rice .... greens foreman
Glenn Rivers .... set designer
Chad Vachter .... props
Greg Wyszynski .... on-set dresser/swing
Michael Caccamise .... art department assistant (uncredited)
George Davis .... art department coordinator (uncredited)
Chela Fiorini .... on-set dresser (uncredited)
Sound Department
Rick Ash .... sound re-recording mixer
Douglas Axtell .... production sound mixer
James Bailey .... foley artist
Michael Camello .... sound assistant
Paul Timothy Carden .... supervising sound editor
Eric Flickinger .... sound recordist
Kevin Globerman .... ProTools engineer
Scott Jacobs .... boom operator
Adam Jenkins .... sound re-recording mixer
Darren T. Knaus .... assistant sound editor
Manny Leyva .... sound utility
Cynthia Merrill .... foley artist
Joe Milner .... supervising sound editor: effects
Nick Neutra .... foley mixer
Thomas O'Neil Younkman .... first assistant sound editor
Sarah Payan .... sound editor
Perry Robertson .... sound editor
Gregg Silk .... second engineer
David Stanke .... assistant sound editor
Greg Steele .... adr mixer
Nancy MacLeod .... foley editor (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Ron Bolanowski .... special effects supervisor
Visual Effects by
Marla Carter Barrett .... title compositor (as Marla Carter)
Robert Stromberg .... matte painting
Patrick Zentis .... matte artist
Mimi Gilbert .... stunt double: Lucy
Troy Gilbert .... stunt coordinator
Andy Gill .... stunt coordinator
Jack Gill .... stunt coordinator
Joel Kramer .... stunt coordinator
Lane Leavitt .... stunts
David Loitz .... precision driver
Patricia M. Peters .... stunt double: Rita (as Tricia Peters)
Jimmy Romano .... stunt coordinator
Erik Stabenau .... stunt double: Sam
Camera and Electrical Department
Art Bartels .... key grip
Ted Caloroso .... first assistant camera: "b" camera
Bruce Chimerofsky .... best boy grip
James F. Cornick .... rigging gaffer
Andrae Crawford .... film loader
Jim Duggan .... company grip (as James Duggan)
Jenifer Galvez .... set lighting technician
Lamarr Gray .... rigging best boy
Bill Greenberg .... electrician
Michael Gulbin .... grip
Ted Lewis .... company grip
Chris Lombardi .... camera operator: "b" camera
Dayton Nietert .... gaffer
Jeremy Antonio Oliver .... electrician
Brendon Phillips .... rigging electrician
David D. Scott .... video assist operator
Lorey Sebastian .... still photographer
Sean Shinneman .... company grip
Cricket Sloat .... assistant chief lighting technician
Christopher A. Zwirner .... electrician
Val Sklar .... loader (uncredited)
Casting Department
Sandra Kuker .... extras casting
Leanna Sheldon .... casting associate
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Lynda Foote .... costume supervisor
Jennifer Morrison Holyfield .... costumer: Ms. Pfeiffer (as Jennifer Holyfield)
Jo Kissack .... set costumer
Editorial Department
Colby Enders .... apprentice editor
Adrian Kays .... editor: end title montage
Dan Muscarella .... color timer
Mark Yoshikawa .... first assistant editor
Music Department
Julian Bratolyubov .... music preparation
Paul Broucek .... music executive
David Carpenter .... featured musician: bass (as Dave Carpenter)
Sandy DeCrescent .... orchestra contractor
Terry Delsing .... music editor
George Doering .... musician
Steve Erdody .... featured musician: Solo cello
Michael Fisher .... featured musician: percussion
Bruce Fowler .... orchestrator
Gavin Greenaway .... conductor
Tod Holcomb .... additional music editor
Mark Kaufman .... music clearance executive
Malcolm Luker .... score recordist
Malcolm Luker .... scoring mixer
James McKee Smith .... assistant to composer
Alan Meyerson .... music scoring mixer
Yvonne S. Moriarty .... orchestrator (as Suzette Moriarty)
Heitor Pereira .... featured musician: Ukes & guitars
Joel J. Richard .... music assistant
Joel J. Richard .... music programmer
Erin Scully .... music executive
Lori Silfen .... music business affairs
Curt Sobel .... temp music editor
Terry Wilson .... music editor
Hans Zimmer .... original music producer
Transportation Department
Jeff Couch .... transportation captain
Julie E. Furnas .... transportation production assistant
J. Armin Garza II .... driver: camera car
Alan Kaminsky .... transportation co-captain
Brian Kay .... production van driver
'Wild Bill' Laczko .... transportation
A. Welch Lambeth .... transportation coordinator (as Welch Lambeth)
Jan Overson .... driver: honeywagon
Harold L. Woods .... driver
Other crew
Nellie Adami .... production coordinator
Diana Adams .... production accountant (as Diana Olsen)
Derek Avila .... assistant location manager
Cassandra Barbour .... rights and clearances: post-production
Buffy Beyer .... assistant: Mr. Rubin
Bianca Bezdek-Goodloe .... legal services
Kayce Brown .... set assistant: Ms. Pfeiffer
Scotty Brown .... assistant location manager
Jan Cerwonka .... studio teacher
Scott Cler .... production assistant
Judy Heinzen Culotta .... assistant location manager (as Judy Heinzen)
Marlena De Fabrizio .... production assistant
Russ Fega .... location manager
Dusten Gazzola .... production assistant
Juliandra Gillen .... stand-in: Rita
Lina Godouse .... stand-in: Lucy (as Lina Godhouse)
Josh Gummersall .... assistant: Marshall Herskovitz
Giselle Gurza .... production assistant
Jason Gutierrez .... production assistant
Trent Hara .... assistant production coordinator
Debbie Hayn-Cass .... production executive
Pete Ibarra .... production assistant
Marc Jacobs .... production resources
Caren Kaplow .... assistant: Ms. Pfeiffer
Kristi Kasubaski .... first assistant accountant
Katrina Kincaid .... production assistant
Linda Klein .... medical technical advisor
Graham Larson .... assistant: Mr. Zwick
Christopher Lee .... location scout
Steven Maines .... stand-in: Sam
Sato Masuzawa .... assistant: Mr. Penn
Andrew Matthews .... financial advisor
Sara Mayer .... set production assistant
Michael McElroy .... adr loop group
Brian McMillan .... animal trainer
David Mendoza .... production assistant
Kristi Mujica .... first assistant accountant
Jason Novak .... assistant: Rick Solomon
Elion Olson .... set production assistant
Jennifer Pedevilla .... payroll accountant
John M. Pisani .... unit publicist
Wonder Fortune Serra .... assistant: Mr. Nelson
Laura Sevier .... rights and clearances: post-production
Steve Solomon .... animal trainer
E. Michael Stankevich .... production secretary
Travis Taylor .... production assistant
Scout Taylor-Compton .... adr loop group
Tyrel Ventura .... set assistant: Mr. Penn
Brenda K. Wachel .... script supervisor
Art Wolff .... dialogue coach: Dakota Fanning
Garson Yu .... title designer
Ronald C. Briggs Jr. .... inventory services (uncredited)
Robert Foulkes .... co-location manager (uncredited)
Robert Hampton Frazier IV .... production assistant (uncredited)
Gary Rodriguez .... stand-in (uncredited)
Jesse Wagler .... production assistant: yU+Co. (uncredited)
Lynne Finkelor .... thanks
Debbie Nelson .... thanks
Yoko Ono .... thanks
Michael Rhode .... thanks
Cameron Taylor-Brown .... thanks
Susan Wilder .... thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for language
132 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Dakota Fanning's character is named Lucy Diamond from The Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Michelle Pfeiffer's character's name is Rita Harrison, from the song "Lovely Rita" and the last name of Beatle George Harrison. Sam, Lucy, and Sam's friends walking across the street with the balloons is a tribute to the case cover of "Abbey Road". Sean Penn wanted the soundtrack to be all Beatles music, but was unable to get the rights, so he asked various artists to cover the Beatles songs he wanted to use. And in order for the re-recorded music to fit into the movie, each of the artists had to use the same tempo as the original Beatles songs.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Annie is teaching Sam when to feed Lucy and they are talking about what "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is about, Annie says "But John Lennon said, it was about a friend of his son Julian Lennon's from school - Lucy O'Connell". The real girl's name was "Lucy O'Donnell".See more »
Sam:Lucy doesn't need me anymore. She has a new family now... and she doesn't need me anymore.
Rita:Is that what she said?
Sam:It's because I know that. Because I just know that.
Rita:Well. That's the first stupid thing I've ever heard you say.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Golden SlumbersSee more »


I am confused by the ending. Who wins custody of Lucy?
See more »
82 out of 108 people found the following review useful.
The Greatest Film I've Ever Seen, 25 February 2007
Author: SteakSalad_101 from New Jersey, USA

I Am Sam is one of, if not the best, motion picture of all time.

I Am Sam is about a retarded man named Sam (Sean Penn) who has a mental capacity of a 7-year old. He works as a server at Starbucks, is obsessed with The Beatles, and loves IHOP. After he accidentally has a daughter (Dakota Fanning) with a homeless woman who he names after the song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. The woman leaves him, and Sam is left to care for Lucy by himself. However, when Lucy intentionally begins to hold back in school to prevent becoming smarter from her father, child protective services takes her away and Sam must fight to obtain custody. He befriends a lawyer, Rita (Michelle Pfeiffer) with a bad marriage and a son who she thinks hates her. Together, Sam and Rita fight for Lucy's custody in a heartwrenching roller coaster of tears, laughs, and the overwhelming power of human spirit.

This is all beside some of the most stunning performances I've ever seen in a film. Sean Penn is top of his game and gives an amazingly realistic performance as a disabled man without a single flaw. To this day it makes me furious he didn't win the Oscar. Dakota Fanning's premiere role is by far her greatest ever, and at only six years old opened the eyes of actresses who've been in the business for years and basically screamed into their faces "This is how acting is done." And Michelle Pfeiffer delivers a phenomenal, incredibly realistic performance that will absolutely take your breath away.

As the film progresses, you will find yourself laughing one minute, crying the next (you WILL cry no matter how mature or old you are, so make sure you have tissues), the next moment tapping your foot along to the familiar Beatles tunes found throughout the movie (even though they're covers) and the next moment simply staring at the screen not believing your eyes and ears at how emotionally powerful a film can be.

And after watching, you won't want to ever give the DVD back to Blockbuster. If you don't at least give this movie a chance, you will truly be missing out on one of the shiniest gems of modern cinema ever.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (431 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for I Am Sam (2001)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
A Scene to Similar to Wolf McGannahanSkjellyfetti
Never Go Full Retard tucstwo
It's called acting azianboylover
Is this based off of any stories or books ? uriel_zuno
Could Rita have had bipolar issues? Studioart81
Sean Penn Wrote Roger Ebert a Letter Defending Performance Pieinthesky22
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