On Saturday, March 4th, the Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) awarded actor, Patrick Wilson, the Career Achievement Award. Past career/lifetime Achievement award winners include Rita Moreno (West Side Story, One Day at a Time), Keith David (The Thing, Platoon), and Chazz Palminteri (The Usual Suspects, A Bronx Tale).
Now in its 11th year, the Tampa Florida-based festival is run by the Tampa Film Institute, Inc. with the goal of “inspiring, educating, and entertaining Tampa Bay’s diverse population.” Over the past decade, GIFF has hosted “thousands of filmmakers, talent, producers, and film buffs along with countless World Premieres, USA Premieres, and Florida Premiere film screenings.”
Wilson has starred in indie-gems (Hard Candy), television treasures (Fargo) and genre movies (The Conjuring). Next year, Wilson will appear in the blockbuster comic book movie, Aquaman, as Ocean Master. Before heading to the award ceremony, Wilson attended a press event where he discussed his 20-year career, before the host, Jason Gorber, opened the floor to questions from the press. Wilson touched on his theatre roots, his most difficult performance, and his desire to star in Oscar calibre films.
GIFF 2017 Career Achievement Award Press Conference Highlights
The acting bug bit Wilson early in life, but the decision to make it a career didn’t happen until between his sophomore and junior year of high school while attending a summer program at Boston University. “I remember reading some material in a couple scenes and being sort of emotionally moved by it,” Wilson stated. “And I thought, if I feel like this, maybe I can try to make people feel that way. So, that’s where it sort of clicked to go this is what I want to do as a career.”
Wilson credits his mother (a singer and choir director) and father’s (TV anchor) support for the arts as a driving force behind his decision to pursue acting. “I was always surrounded by the arts,” Wilson said. “When I wanted to go into it as a career, it was only met with complete support. Not only support but then you have to train for it.”
Gorber asked Wilson if he sees roles in Oklahoma, Fargo, or a James Wan horror film as radically different aspects of his performance. “No, I don’t,” Wilson told the host. “That was one of the reasons I got into musical theater, because when I study, when I went to Carnegie Mellon and I studied musical theater, I looked at it the same way I did Chekhov or anything else. Any David Mamet, something contemporary. I, with the same respect, the same attention to detail. I could sit there and dissect a scene in Carousel just as I could in Henry V, with the same amount of intensity and respect. So it never seemed like, well now I have to put on my musical theater hat and act like I’m in a musical.”
“Look, if you got lines, damning Bathsheba back to hell… you gotta just chew it!”
“I would also say, that those horror films, if anything, that has been the most theatrical. James and I always laugh, because I always… Look, if you got lines, damning Bathsheba back to hell, you can’t, you’ve gotta, you gotta just chew it! I mean it feels like melodrama and in the best way. That’s not knocking it at all. That’s the sort of theatre animal if anything. Truthfully, look at how Hugh Jackman was the same way. The way he just inhabited Wolverine, even in the first X-Men film because he had come from musical theater and sort of knew that you gotta just be in it to win it. You can’t half-ass it, you’ve got to whole-ass it.”
Wilson said that when reflecting on his career, there are things he can look back at with fondness and learn from. “Little Children, I didn’t read the book before I did it,” he told the audience. “If I had to do that again I probably would read it. That was a conscious choice. Todd Field had sort of said, ‘Yeah, don’t read it,’ and I thought, ‘Ok, I won’t read it,’ which is easy because I was not a big reader. But then I read it afterwards and I thought, I should have read this before I did it.”
Wilson lists 2015 film, Zipper, as the movie that features his most difficult scene. “There was a scene that I did in that movie that was the hardest scene I had ever done, period,” he revealed. “Just the day of shooting that one scene. But you know, for whatever reason, it’s fine on film. It’s not always about what you think you’re feeling, it’s what it looks like. You’re making this for an audience, not for yourself.”
Sordid Cinema asked Wilson how his early career objectives have changed now that he’s a successful working actor. “When I came to New York and I was doing musical theater my goal was to be nominated for a Tony and to be on an original cast album,” he replied. “That was all I wanted and I was fortunate to pull that off in a handful of years. So then my goals sort of shifted. There’s not a real goal other than, I don’t sit home and feel like, ‘Man I want to be nominated for an Oscar. I want to be in Oscar-caliber movies.’ I guess that’s that goal. And try to navigate as much as you can the muddy waters that are Hollywood and not let the system sort of get you down.”
Wilson also added, “There was a while where I was just doing a lot of independent movies just because it felt like doing theater. It’s like, I’ll go do that, I haven’t done that genre, let’s try that. I have a little more care now, I think, going forward.”