SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Rob Patterson: Well, I’m Rob Patterson and I’m an actor, and artist.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Rob Patterson: I think I’ve always wanted to be one. I’ve been acting and performing ever since I can remember, even before I started doing it officially.
SKSM: How did you become involved in Grey matter Dollar Baby film?
Rob Patterson: Well, my agent called me for a last-minute audition down in Orange County. Another of her talent, Tyler, who I knew from our training with the late, great Gary Austin (founder of The Groundlings) had been cast for the role of Isaac, and she saw a great opportunity for us to work together. I wasn’t too excited about the long trip down there but I had to go down… Actors go where their agents send them. I got the call when I got home that I’d been cast.
SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?
Rob Patterson: Well, I think the parallel between the surreal make believe world of monsters and the real life of people and the trials and monstrosities we all grapple with at one point or another, often only internally, or privately. Stephen King really captures this effectively in much of his work, and I think James’ vision and choice to focus less on special effects and more on the human, emotional aspect, specifically the tattered father-son relationship really captures that in this version.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Rob Patterson: Yep, I auditioned. We all did. James would be the better one to ask about it, but I don’t think there was an option to tailor it to the actors, given the parameters of the Dollar Baby program.
SKSM: You worked with James B. Cox on this film, how was that?
Rob Patterson: James was a dream to work with. He’s super friendly, open, engaging, collegial, yet focused, with a strong vision. He really welcomed our input and collaboration, and made his vision clear to us without overwhelming us. I felt completely and totally comfortable with him at every turn. It was a really exhilarating experience working together with him and Tyler and the whole team he put together. There’s just a great sense of respect and openness and collaboration. It’s interesting from an actor’s perspective, the balance between expressing one’s on impulses and ideas as they arise naturally out of the process, but also staying supple and not getting so caught up in them that we forget our role is to be directed. It’s a breathtaking, beautiful thing to experience when the balance can be struck between the actor’s ability to express and regulate himself and the director’s ability to direct and facilitate.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moments when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Rob Patterson: Well, there was one day when the dolly broke, and we sat around for hours waiting for it to be repaired or replaced, but that really wasn’t funny at the time – more like “funny” after the fact.
For me, one of the really funny situations was trying to get the gelatinous monster flesh off my skin afterwards. I’m not joking, it took hours and hours of them scrubbing me down with oil and other preparations to get that sticky gunk off me. I think it might be one of the few times in history where a guy was frustrated by having two women rubbing on him all day. My skin was still sore weeks later, and occasionally a tiny piece of the gel would come off even over a month later – little remnant bits and flecks here and there. My girlfriend at the time found it both humorous and gross, bemused by how she would find a little piece of rubber remnant on my skin someplace and pull it off my shoulder or whatever…
We did have a lot of joking on set generally, too. Humor, fun, joking, and just engaging each other in a very friendly way, among all the seriousness of heavy subject matter. We all hit it off very well from the beginning.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/ cast from that time? If so with who?
Rob Patterson: Oh, yeah, James and I have stayed in touch, and his wife. Kevin (Slee) and I stayed in touch for quite a while, but sort of lost touch in the last couple of years. Same thing with Tyler. We did some more work together with Gary after the shoot for a couple of years. You know, though, people’s paths often just diverge… And hopefully converge again. Overall many of us are in touch on Facebook. I really look forward to working with any or all of them again at the soonest possible opportunity. I’ve been very pleased and honored that James has sent me a couple of his scripts on his subsequent projects for review. I hope he’ll keep that up. I’d love to work with him again. What a great time. It’s the joy of doing good work together and enjoying it so much that is just an incomparable experience. Once you have it, you have to have it again.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Rob Patterson: Well, I’ve temporary been on a semi- hiatus to attend to some family situations that need my involvement, but I have kept my hand in during that period. I’ve been trying to help promote the film I produced, cast, and acted in that was released in 2015, called Hamlets Ghost, to try to get its exposure up in the video on demand market, and more festivals, screenings, etc… It’s a really nice flick with performances by some great people, among them Barbara Niven, Stephanie Zimbalist, John Loprieno, and Ida Anderson. (If I may make a plug, ha ha!) It’s up on Amazon and other sites now. I’ve also have been involved in the development of a film being put together by a British Director and Writer team, called G.O.D.Tech. It’s a dystopic pre-apocalyptic tale based on The Biblical cal Book of Revelation that I think will be very interesting. I think people will enjoy it. I get to play another military character in that one. We did a sort of semi-prequel for the London sci-fi film festival based on that last April.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Rob Patterson: Oh yes. I’m not sure anybody from my generation could possibly not be. He was deeply entrenched in the culture that we grew up in, and the stories are just so intense. The joy of being scared type of thing. As well as other psychological ramifications. Sort of like very artistic poetry of a different kind…
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Rob Patterson: Well, I don’t now. One thing might be that I’m one of two Baltimore boys who did Stephen king films in Hollywood that made the top 10 list of all-time best adaptations. Holter Grahm did (the much larger production, of course) Maximum Overdrive, and of course I did the smaller scale production of Grey Matter. Another thing might be that I’m trying to head towards involving myself in a more official ministry, as in of the cloth. Pregnant pause, ha ha. Not to the exclusion of acting, of course, but sort of dovetailing.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Rob Patterson: Thanks so much for putting these interviews together. I just really appreciate the folks that have been so supportive of an interested in this wonderful flick. I’ve had so much fun at the screenings, and really hope that we’ll have more of them because I just really love the whole experience. The people who like this movie and the others in its genre are really dedicated lovers of the genre and the craft as well, and it’s just remarkable and wonderful.
SKSM: Do you like something to add?
Rob Patterson: Well, just that I hope we’ll all get some more life out of this film and let it get seen by more people, screened at more festivals etc. I know that the strictures of the dollar baby program limit what that can be, but even just more festival runs would be lovely. And I hope everyone will check out James’ recent film Control-Alt-Delete, and my recent film Hamlet’s Ghost and like my page to keep up with updates for the upcoming God tech. And James, if you’re reading this, let’s make another movie!