Patrick Wilson: Patrick's Day

Angels in America’s Patrick Wilson comes down to earth to discuss his two new films, Morning Glory and Barry Munday, and Hollywood’s attempt to get him naked as often as possible.



Who’s the most important gay person in your life?
Right now it’s my realtor, John, because I just bought a house. He was one of my best friends on the road when we were touring in Carousel in 1996 — we roomed together a lot — but he left the business a long time ago. My wife and I have two little boys, and when I was looking at neighborhoods, I specifically wanted a very liberal, open, artistic area. I called him up because I knew that wherever a gay couple felt comfortable raising their two adopted kids would be a cool place. Honestly, it was like, Where do my gay friends live? Let’s live there!

You haven’t played gay since Angels. Why not?
There’s no rhyme and reason, but that is kind of funny, right? I really haven’t been offered a lot of gay characters. It didn’t get to the point where I auditioned, but I remember when Brokeback Mountain was happening early on — before they knew if it was going to work with Heath and Jake. But when I was sent the Brokeback Mountain script, I didn’t bat an eye. That was pretty soon after Angels came out, but I couldn’t have cared less if I only did two roles on screen and one was Joe Pitt and the other was in Brokeback. I don’t care whether a role’s gay or straight; if it’s good, it’s good.

I was curious if you fought against typecasting after taking a high-profile gay part so early in your career.
If I think about every movie that I’ve done — if it’s had any sort of success, critically or otherwise — you do usually get offered a stream of that kind of character afterward. I’m very particular when it comes to choosing roles, so I guess there was a conscious choice early on. After Angels and then [Raoul in the 2004 film version of] Phantom of the Opera, which was certainly not the manliest of roles, I wanted to find something really dark, twisted, and different than anything I’d ever done, so I did Hard Candy. Of course, after that came out I got sent a bunch of pedophile roles. It’s like, do these guys not get it? I’m not going to repeat myself right away.

At least you got a drunken kiss from Hugh Dancy in Evening.
Yeah, that’s true. I’ve never been one for the drunken kisses, but I remember shooting that scene because it was super-cold and we had to keep pretending it was summer. I’m also playing Felix in the 25th anniversary benefit reading of The Normal Heart [October 18 at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre]. I’m really excited because I love Joel Grey, who’s directing, and it’s such a great group of actors.

As an actor who tackled one of the most memorable closet cases in contemporary literature, what’s your take on the Hollywood closet?
I don’t know — I feel like I could get in trouble either way. There are older actors that all of us in the business look at and think, Oh, come on. One side of me is like, Why don’t they just come out? But if they don’t want to, it’s nobody’s business. If coming out helps someone feel great and further a personal cause, that’s awesome, but I just wish no one cared. Every time I hear somebody came out, it doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s such a personal thing, and the last thing you’d want is for someone to feel like they needed to do it. I don’t know what that gains other than making some tabloid reader feel validated, like, “I knew it!” or “That’s shocking!” Then again, I don’t know that struggle. But no one’s calling me to ask about all the women I’ve slept with, so why does anyone need to tell people who they’re sleeping with? It’s a side of the business that I really detest. I don’t want anyone to know anything about me. You know, early on when we were dating, my wife asked me, “Did you care if anyone thought you were gay after Angels in America?” I said, “No, I hope they thought I was gay, Republican, a lawyer, and Mormon. Then I did my job.”

No complaints that you appear in various states of undress for almost every role, but your bare ass practically has more IMDb credits than you do. Have you ever felt sexually objectified?
I have, but not in the scenes that you’d think. You should talk to my lawyer, because if it were up to me I’d never do it except for when it’s really called for, like in Angels, Little Children, and Watchmen. Joe has to be naked in Angels because he has to strip everything away. You have to see them naked in Little Children because it’s got to be hot and raw like Body Heat. I had to be seen naked from behind in Watchmen because that’s one of the coolest panels in the comic. But then there are the things where a director will go, “Why don’t you be shirtless in this scene?” I’ll say, “Why am I shirtless?” “Uh…” “Ah, you see?!” At least I could justify it in Lakeview Terrace because it was 115 degrees out.
Tags: film