Opening in theaters this weekend is James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2. The follow-up to the 2011 surprise hit picks up exactly where the first left off. Josh (Patrick Wilson) has returned from the Further feeling not quite himself, and when Renai (Rose Byrne) begins seeing familiar signs of the paranormal the Lambert family is thrust once more into a world of psychics, demons and ghosts. Insidious: Chapter 2 also stars Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, and Ty Simpkins.
During a recent New York press day I hopped on the phone for an interview with Wilson. He talked about working on his first sequel, playing multiple characters, what he’s learned from his collaborations with James Wan, wanting to get back on stage and more. He also gave an update on Joe Carnahan’s Stretch. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
PATRICK WILSON: You are wrong. No, you’re exactly right. It is my first sequel. [Laughs]
What was that like for you stepping back into a character you’ve already played? Obviously you did that with theater, but was it different for film?
WILSON: Yeah, that’s true. Coming from theater where you play a role hundreds of times. It’s not like I was doing the same lines, though. Other than donning the flannel and the lantern for the Further it didn’t really feel- it just felt like getting the same group of people together to further the story along. Forgive me for saying further, but yes. Obviously knowing that – James being the lynchpin of the situation, but knowing that everyone was back that obviously made it much easier. It was like, “Yeah, go for it.”
You’re also playing definitely two character, arguably three depending on how you look at it.
WILSON: [Laughs] yeah.
Was that a big challenge? Or is it just another day in the actor’s office?
WILSON: Well that the fun, you know? That’s why you do it. I spent half of the first movie not doing much at all, then getting active in the second half and going to save my son and then on the way back run into a little trouble coming out of the Further as we call it. That was the fun. It’s like if we’re going to go for it, let’s pick up where we left off and see what possessed Josh does. That was the exciting part. You don’t want to just retread the same ground. That would be boring.
Well, you’re not treading the same ground per se, but you have worked with James Wan three times in fairly short order.
WILSON: Yes, I know, I know. The sad thing for him – at least I go off and do other movies, he hasn’t stared at anybody other than me. I told him this the other day and he thought I was being silly. I was like, “At least you get to stare at Paul Walker and Vin Diesel now. You’ve been staring at me for years.” Because we get done shooting, he goes and edits. So he’s literally staring at my face all day for like, three years straight. I feel terrible. So at least now he gets to move on.
Was there anything you learned or observed about the filmmaking process by sort of watching him grow over the course of three films?
WILSON: Yeah, he knows how to structure the movie so well that there’s nothing wasted. There are a bunch of different kind of painters, you know what I mean? Somebody can paint with a fine brush like Monet and do millions of little dots or somebody can splatter it up there like Kandinsky or Jackson Pollock and go “Yep, that’s art.” That’s okay. Some people can go back and change it and change it and change it. Like Tennessee Williams used to go back and re-write his plays all the time. James doesn’t really, for my money, go back and make the movie in the editing room. He knows the movie that he’s making, so very few things are cut. That’s something that I watched him do. It’s the economy of shooting. Know how you want to shoot it. It’s not that everything’s necessarily planned out within an inch of itself. You get there and there’s till things that pop up, but he’d find creative ways- he thinks of the gag, and the set pieces, and the scares so he has those in place. So he knows. He’s just very specific and I think that’s something that I’ve learned. You have to know what you’re shooting. Don’t just make your movie in the editing room and just get everything you can on the day because, certainly on 26 days, you can’t do that because you’re not going to have time to shoot every scene from multiple angles. So you’ve got to figure out the best way to tell your story.
Do you think you guys might team up again in the future?
WILSON: I’m in for it. We keep joking. I’m like, “Can I just drive a little Fiat or something in Fast & Furious?” Just a tiny little smart car that can speed by in a big car chase. No, I don’t think I’ll be in that one, but we’re always trying to find something. Definitely. Definitely. I have some ideas.
I believe you just wrapped Stretch with Joe Carnahan.
WILSON: I did, I did. Yes.
I’m really looking forward to seeing this one. What kind of movie can audiences expect?
WILSON: It’s insane. It’s all those movies – in a strange way [Insidious] nods to 80’s horror movies, I think in a lot of ways. Stretch is like that for action comedies. It’s completely balls to the wall. The worst night of the limo drivers career going from trying to get this money, all this cast of characters, and a dead guy over my shoulder that’s haunting me the whole time in a shark-skinned suit and a tiny moustache by the name of Ed Helms. I was like, “Joe is this Cannonball Run meets Bachelor Party?” [Laughs] It’s like all those excessive 80’s R-rated action comedies. I mean, it’s insane. Brooklyn Dekker, Jessica Alba…we’d be doing “Tonight I’m getting chased down the street by these body guards. Oh and we happened to get a former pro-baller from the Green Bay Packers, he’s going to be chasing you. ” And you’re like, “Of course, why wouldn’t we?” [Laughs] Who’s there today? Today’s David Hasselhoff. Awesome, who’s he playing? David Hasselhoff. Fantastic! It was that type of movie and it was awesome. It was so much fun. The movie was so much fun. It was insane, insane. So funny, hopefully.
Yeah, it was such a fun show and you’re a great stage performer.
WILSON: Thank you.
You’re welcome. It’s been a few years now since you’ve been on stage so is that something you’re getting hungry to do again?
WILSON: Strangely it’s been eleven years since I’ve done a musical, which is just horrifying to me because I made my living- that’s just what I did for so long. First half of my career was nothing but musicals. So I am looking. I am actively looking. It’s just very difficult trying to map out your year in my position. I like the not knowing of what the next job is. This has been an unusual year where I’ve had back to back to back jobs set up. Usually I don’t. I’m usually like I am now, like one or two movies out and a couple more that are trying to get financed. So I don’t quite know when I’ll be able to do a play or a musical, but I’m looking. It’s one of the main reasons that my wife and I stay here on this coast, is for that. She did a play last year. She did Golden Boys. So I certainly do. It’s just finding a good musical with a good role is tough. I did a workshop of one in the spring, but again it’s going into production now and I couldn’t do it because I’m doing another film in a couple months. So it’s hard. It’s hard with musicals because it’s the complete opposite schedule with movies and I can’t really pull my own string with movies.
The movie musical kind of seems to be on an upswing again. Is that something you would be interested in if you can’t find time to make a stage show work?
WILSON: I’d like to do both. They don’t take each other’s place if that’s what you’re looking for. If I did a musical in a movie I wouldn’t be like, “Oh great, now I don’t have to do one on stage.” There’s nothing like performing on stage. Would I like to do a movie musical? Sure. But that wouldn’t take the place of me trying to find one on the stage. It’s a totally different experience. There’s nothing like it. So that’s really the goal, being on stage.