From first-time feature writer/director Scott Foley (who also stars in the film), the black comedy Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife is a subversive look at what happens when one of your friends is married to the totally wrong person. Everyone hates Ward’s (Donald Faison) wife, Stacy (Dagmara Dominczyk), and wants her dead, including Ward. But when murderous fantasies turn into accidental reality, they have to figure out how to dispose of the body without getting caught. The film also stars Patrick Wilson, Marika Dominczyk, Amy Acker, James Carpinello and Greg Grunberg.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor/producer Patrick Wilson talked about his reaction when he first read the script, why he wanted to get involved as a producer, how it was to be directed by his brother-in-law, the goals for his production company with James Carpinello, called Lost Rhino Films, wanting to make the leap to directing, himself, and the type of roles that attract his attention. He also talked about the huge success of The Conjuring, his love for working with direct James Wan, shooting The Conjuring 2 later this year, and how he’d be happy to return for more. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
PATRICK WILSON: He’s been a very prolific writer. He’s sold things and he’s optioned things, but he hadn’t had a movie produced before. So, I guess he gave it to me about two years ago and said, very non-chalantly, “I’ve got this script and I’d like you to read it.” And the, I read it and was like, “Scott, we’ve gotta do this movie. You’ve gotta get it done.” I felt like it was such a different tone for anything people are used to seeing from Scott, as an actor, which I thought was great. I felt like this was such a fun, dark comedy, unless you know Scott’s dry sense of humor. Anytime somebody puts forward work that’s different than what people are seeing, that’s always really inspiring to me. He said, “I want to write and direct it.” And I said, “Absolutely, and you should be in it, too. Let’s do it!” We showed it to my partner, James [Carpinello], who played Ronnie, and he felt that it was the perfect fit for our production company. We’ve had other projects that we’ve optioned and that were in development, but we hadn’t done a movie yet. This was the perfect scenario, where we could co-produce it with Scott. I just wanted to make it work for him, honestly. If I could help, in any way, I wanted it to be his first thing.
Did you ever have any hesitation, at all, about getting involved with a film that was written by your brother-in-law and that you would also be directed by him, and where your wife was also in the film but not acting opposite you, since your character would be married to the character played by your sister-in-law?
WILSON: Not really. I’ve always had good relationships with directors. I’m one of those people where, if there’s a good idea coming from the sound guy, I’ll take it. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort, whether it’s a first-time director or it’s Mike Nichols. I think that’s the standard that the great ones set. You have your vision and you need to be focused, but you have to listen. I never felt a sense that the wheels were going to come off because we’re all friends and family. It was all good. Scott knew the kind of movie he wanted to make, and I was happy to be directed by him. We just wanted to get it done. There may have been a time or two where I said, “Hey, James, you’re stomping on my wife’s chest in the tub,” but truthfully, my wife is a gamer. She’s one of those people who’s just extremely professional. I knew that if she was okay with all of it, then I would be.
WILSON: I thought he was great, and he was really solid in what he wanted to do. Any ideas or notes that we had, as a producer, an actor, a friend or a brother-in-law, was because something wasn’t clear or we weren’t getting something or we didn’t understand a moment. He was very good at illustrating what he wanted. If you have a very specific tone that you’re going for, you’ve gotta support your director’s vision. The good thing is that we all are not a bunch of 20-year-olds trying to make a movie. It wasn’t like, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve never had this experience!” We were on a movie set. It’s what we do. It’s what I’ve been doing for a long time now. We get it.
This is a very dark comedy with a very specific tone. Is it in line with your sense of humor?
WILSON: For me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a comedy, a Western or horror. As long as you’ve got a good story to tell, the genre almost doesn’t matter. As an actor playing the role, it’s all rooted in reality. Each of these relationships strangely get better, as the film goes on. When Stacy dies, these relationships grow. Once you wrap your head around that, you know you’re having a very surreal experience, and that’s how a dark comedy works. The Brits have been doing it forever. America is usually a little more earnest, so it’s hard to hit that tone. In keeping it small and in keeping all of the friends and family involved in it, we were able to have the same vision. Also, Scott showed me the script about two years ago, so I knew the tone that he wanted. It would have been interesting if somebody else directed it because it would have ended up being a different movie. This is Scott’s movie. He wrote it and it was the movie he wanted to make, and that’s cool. That’s really exciting, when you’re working with a director that has that, especially when it’s your brother-in-law.
What are your goals with your production company? Are there things that you’re specifically looking to do?
WILSON: We had optioned the book Caught Stealing several years ago and had Wayne Kramer attached to direct that. We were producing that with Myriad Pictures, but that’s tough to get off the ground. It’s a much greater budget, and it’s very hard for that genre of movie right now. And my brother and I came up with a story that is in Florida, where I grew up, and that’s something that I’ll direct, so we’re developing that. It’s hard because we’re also managing our acting lives. It’s all about finding the right material. I’ll probably view it just like I view my acting career, which is to find the most dynamic or different movie from the last one. That’s the goal with the production company.
Have you been thinking about making the leap to directing for awhile?
WILSON: Yeah. There are things that have come my way, that I’ve looked at, but it just hasn’t felt right yet. I know it’s all or nothing, so this idea that my brother has and that I’ve fostered with him, we’ve been doing this since March and just turned in our first draft. It’s a long process to come to fruition. So, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a long time. I’ve always been that guy. I go back to my alma mater a lot. I’ve always been in directing mode. I actually think I’m going to go direct a play next year.
WILSON: I knew that if we got it right, we could do two, three, four or five decent weeks. I did not think that it was going to make that kind of money. You never know what kind of money a film is going to make. But I knew that when I did the first Insidious film with James [Wan], if he did the movie like I knew he would, that it was going to be a hit, and it was. I had that going into The Conjuring, as well. James and I talked about it and he’s someone that I just love working with. We’ve done three movies together, and we’ll continue to. So, I knew that he would knock it out of the park. I didn’t see $320 million, or whatever, but I don’t deal in dollar signs. It’s just right for it. It’s one of those properties where you feel like you can do it for a long time. With Insidious, we followed a family. The Conjuring could go with different families. There could be hundreds of cases. I’m not going to say there will be hundreds of movies because I don’t want to lessen my bargaining power, but we’re in for a couple, absolutely. If that’s what the marketplace allows, I’d do more than another one.
Have you shot the sequel yet?
WILSON: No. James just came back on board a couple months ago. He’s gotta finish post on Fast & Furious 7, and then I think we’ll start later in the year, probably in the summer or fall.
At this point in your career, what is it that attracts you to a project and makes you want to sign on?
WILSON: The easy answer is the role. That’s where it starts. But really, it’s gotta fit into my life. I have a family with a wife and two kids, and everything I do is funneled through that. I enjoy going off and doing little independent movies because I love acting and playing different roles. I’ve done four or five different genres this year, and that’s exciting to me. It’s also a five to six week time commitment. If there’s something that’s bigger, it just takes a bigger conversation. I’m always juggling. Since I’ve done four or five independent movies in the past year or so, I’m looking for something different, knowing that I’m going to do the studio horror movie, at the end of the year. I’m a pretty driven guy. I love working, if the role is great. That’s really what it comes down to.
Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife is on VOD and opens in theaters on January 9th.