Who's asking: Larry Willis, St. Louis, MO
Larry writes, "I often see something written like, 'I was preparing my character for a roll (sic) in a movie...'"
Sic is the Latin word for "thus," as in the Virginia state motto, Sic semper tyrannis (thus always to tyrants). Editors and typographers use it to show that they have chosen to reproduce an error in an original text. You see it frequently in academic works, especially when authors are quoting archaic spellings or constructions.
I don't like it, and rarely use it. At best, it's pedantic; at worst, it's smug, and in the example Larry gives, its purpose is to embarrass the actor being quoted. We saw the word sic a lot when the gossip media were reporting Lindsay Lohan's incoherent e-mail tribute to the late Robert Altman ("be adequite").
Then again, publications have become so rife with errors that conscientious copy editors may feel the need to defend themselves by making sure that readers know the errors aren't theirs. I recently received a broadcast e-mail from a professional association I belong to, announcing a series of "exiting meetings" with various important people. From the context I assumed they meant "exciting," but I had fun for a few minutes imagining a string of elaborate leave-takings.