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Exclusive: Patrick Wilson on horror, Halloween, Insidious and Conjuring!

10.21.2015by: Eric Walkuski
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Patrick Wilson has had a very interesting career so far, you cannot deny this. He seemingly lives in two worlds: On the one hand, he's been in several acclaimed dramas and TV shows, including HBO's Angels in American, LITTLE CHILDREN, WATCHMEN and most recently, the second season of Fargo. On the flipside, he's considered something of a "Scream King" in the horror genre, thanks to his turns in the INSIDIOUS films, THE CONJURING and its in-production sequel. Wilson's new film, BONE TOMAHAWK, straddles the line between traditional western and violent horror film; it's not your typical Halloween fare, but it's a tasty (and yucky) morsel for horror fans all the same, while straight-forward enough to appeal to people who like their movies "serious."

I recently spoke to Wilson while he was in Austin, Texas, at BONE TOMAHAWK's world premiere. My second time interviewing the actor, I can confirm Wilson is as down-to-Earth as you could hope for in an actor, the prototypical "guy you could have a beer with." In addition to geeking out about working with Kurt Russell, Wilson talks to me about melding a western and a horror film, his earliest scary movies, what Halloween means to him now, and the future of THE CONJURING and INSIDIOUS! 

 

Was Bone Tomahawk a rough shoot?

It was quick. We had the benefit of a few days of rehearsal which really helped on the acting side, so that when we showed up we knew what we were doing and we could roll with whatever the constraints were with set-ups and locations and all that. Overall, I think like most actors I was just happy to be in a western. [Laughs] When you get to be in a western and it's a good one, it's a double bonus. To be opposite this cast, especially Kurt, was pretty amazing.

Were you a fan of westerns growing up?

Yeah, I was. Movies like Tombstone and Silverado got my into the genre, then I worked backwards and found everything from Magnificent Seven and Butch Cassidy and The Searchers. There are a few of them in there.

There is, of course, a horror element to Bone Tomahawk. Did you think it would be tricky to join both genres and make it work?

The one thing about westerns is, simple storytelling is pretty common, which is good, and I think it enables you to build on character. One of the things with this is, there's a rawness in a really good western where you're working on very primal emotions. So I actually think they fit very well together. The primal aspect and cannibalistic nature of these troglodytes, it's just our take on the scalpings and the various other horrible things that actually went on back then. You're talking about a very bleak atmosphere. It wasn't called the safe west. [Laughs] I think they work very well together; like any good movie, it sort of extends the genre.

You mentioned Kurt before, was meeting him and working with him a very cool moment for you?

I love those moments. Quick side note, I had a friend who played pro baseball for a very long time, and there's something that baseball players do a lot which is, if you're playing against somebody who's going to be a hall of famer, you get him to sign your ball. And that's okay, even if you're going to play against him. It's okay to be a fan and be a teammate, and I've always loved that. If I'm working with somebody and I think they're great, I have no problem telling them they're great. I loved telling Kurt that I listed to the DVD commentary of Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York back to back so I could listen to him and John Carpenter talk. I have no problem with doing that, and then you put it away and you go to work. That's the kind of actor I am. I love the fact that he was one of those guys who, when I was 16 or 17 years old and trying to figure out what I want to do for a living, you go, "Wow, I'd love to work with that guy someday." You don't want to take that for granted, you want to savor the moment, and that's what this movie was.

 

Halloween is right around the corner. Are there any traditions for you, does the holiday have a special meaning to you?

I have two boys, so right now it's all about whatever costumes they want to have. Not that I'm a fuddy-duddy, as my wife would say. [Laughs] I play dress-up for a living, so I'm just happy watching my kids play dress-up. Although last year we did a theme party where we dressed up as characters from Ghost, so that was pretty fun. I was Patrick Swayze. But those are really the only Halloween traditions we have, but I think with most holidays when you have kids, it's just about looking at it through your kids' eyes.

Do you remember the first horror movie you saw that had a really big effect on you?

It was actually the TV version of Salem's Lot. It terrified me, just the dead brother scratching on the window. This was when I was around 5-years-old, and I went back and saw it when I was about 17 and I was like, "I was scared of this?" I was hoping it would be really scary and it really wasn't. [Laughs] Also, Poltergeist because, and I'll be really honest with you, this was in St. Louis in 1982, our house got robbed the same night we saw Poltergeist. So Poltergeist became associated with our house being robbed while we were out seeing Poltergeist.

Are there any obscure horror movies you like that you recommend to people?

I'm not a big horror fan. Trust me, I've done many movies with James Wan and I don't even get into conversations with him about horror movies. Pretty much every reference of his I go, "Yep, never saw it! I saw Police Academy 2!" I'm not a big horror guy. The things I like about The Shining aren't the scary parts. There are a number of movies that I try to check out, but I'm really not skilled on the genre.

Where are you now with The Conjuring 2?

We're in it now, production just started last week. Just like with the Amityville story, the Enfield Poltergeist story is a very, very horrifying real life tale. It's very close to the British people's hearts, and I think we've really done it justice. If it wasn't great, James wouldn't have come back after Furious 7, so we're super excited about this. The cast they got is pretty remarkable.

 

Have you guys already started talking about the third Conjuring film?

[Laughs] Maybe my lawyers are, but I'm not. We're not getting to that yet, we're just taking it one step at a time.

Is the Insidious chapter of your life over, or do you think there's room for another?  

We've never talked about it. I feel pretty confident with the first two and what happened with my character, Josh Lambert. I don't know what else you do with them, and it's not out of any sort of ego or paycheck or anything like that. I just don't know what else you'd do. He's been on every side of it, and that's part of the reason I came back for the second one, there was such a cliffhanger at the end of the first one that you felt like, "Well I gotta come back!" All of my decisions are made creatively at the end of the day. Especially with the third one, I don't know how you'd fit the Lambert family back in without it just seeming like a shoehorned idea. I think we are beyond the Lambert family!

Thanks so much for your time, man. Enjoy Austin!  

Thanks, man, I really appreciate it.

 

Extra Tidbit: BONE TOMAHAWK comes out October 23rd.

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2:19PM on 10/23/2015
Great interview. Patrick Wilson is one of my favorite actors and am glad to see him in more high quality roles/films. The guy is vastly underrated; would love to see Snyder give him a part in the expanded DCU.
Great interview. Patrick Wilson is one of my favorite actors and am glad to see him in more high quality roles/films. The guy is vastly underrated; would love to see Snyder give him a part in the expanded DCU.
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