Friday, July 30, 2010

Flashback Friday: Exclusive Pat Healy Interview

Today's Flashback Friday is another site exclusive interview from November 2000 with Pat Healy, who played Sir Edmund William Godfrey and also his son, the younger pharmacist from the Moore meltdown "Don't You Call Me Lady" scene. Enjoy:

C&RV: How did you get started in the acting business?
PH: I came out to Los Angeles in the Spring of 1998. I had done a lot of series television prior to that. I did guest appearances on The Practice, Profiler, NYPD Blue & Buddy Faro (with Dennis Farina). That show didn't last too long. I think it was cancelled after they ran the opening credits. How about "Turks," does anyone remember that one? Hello.....
C&RV: How did your part in Magnolia happen?
PH: My agent had a relationship with the casting director Cassandra Kulukundis. So I sent her my picture. Paul had her looking for real unknown people to populate the world that he created. He wasn't looking for anyone to too familiar for the supporting roles.
C&RV: So she called you in for an audition?
PH: Yeah, I went in on short notice just to be put on tape. She & I just hit it off & we talked for about an hour. I then ran through the scene with her. She left the room & came back with Paul. I was totally blown away. Because I was already a "geeky fan boy" of his anyway. We're roughly the same age & have the same interests. We're both total film geeks. 
I did the scene for him a bunch of times & he said, "You can have this part if you want it." I was like, "OK. I have never had that happen before." He said, "It's going to be great. We have the whole day to shoot the scene & Julianne is going to be there." So that's it. He gave me the part.
C&RV: Did you get the whole script at that point?
PH: I didn't have one at the time. I had to sign like two or three confidentiality agreements. It was pretty tight. Then I got the script which looked like a phone book. Every script had the actor's name & it was numbered with the actor's name on every page.
C&RV: So you were only aware that you were doing the part of the young pharmacist?
PH: Yeah. He hadn't talked to me about the prologue scene as Sir Edmund William Godfrey. I had read it in the script, but it never even occurred to me. I didn't know that I'd be doing that part until about five months later. Paul knew all along. I just got a call that they wanted to some additional scenes.
C&RV: How was that to shoot with the Pathe camera on the Universal lot for the prologue scenes?
PH: It was really exciting. Everybody was really excited because no one had used that camera before. They did some tests, but they're weren't sure how everything would turn out. They had a metronome to keep the timing. Paul was still able to move the camera the way he liked.
C&RV: Any problems during that part of the shoot?
PH: No. Except that the little girl who played my daughter was terrified of me. I had the long cape, big hat & mustache on. She was supposed to jump into my arms, but she would stand in the corner. Paul would try to coax her, but with not much luck. You don't end up seeing her much at all.
C&RV: Did you have to do the scene any slower when using the Pathe camera?
PH: No. We did it at normal speed. It's very strange. For example, when I get punched, the arm was nowhere near my face. But because of the speed of the camera, it looks like it hits me right in the face. But it wasn't even close.
C&RV: Tell me about shooting the scene with Julianne Moore in the pharmacy?
PH: It was shot in one, long twelve hour day. He shot her coverage first which was really great. I got see what see was doing which gave me plenty of time to prepare & know how to react to her. She was incredible. Paul shot her breakdown first & she just nailed it in three takes. I think the scene that was used was like the first or second take. She's just amazing.
C&RV: How is Paul to work for in terms of what he gives to you as a director?
PH: He's great. He's just a fan of actors, so he's completely supportive of anything & everything that you want to bring to the role. His writing is good, so there's just no need to a lot of improvising or adding on to the scene. 
He's like a kid. He gets really excited about the camera & the actors. He gets you excited about it. He was really generous while shooting the pharmacy scene, we did it a couple of times & he was like, "OK, that's great, we got it." 
I didn't say anything, but I had a look on my face & he looks at me & says, "What?" I told him that if we did it one more time, I think I could really nail it. So he says, "OK, everybody, set it back up, we're gonna do it one more time". Which was really great, because who the fuck am I? 
C&RV: Do you find it easier to act the way that Paul writes or do you like more specifics about the character?
PH: I like the way he writes. He really trusts his actors. I just shot my first short film "Mullitt" & found that really good actors will bring a lot to the part. It's been submitted to the Sundance Film Festival. Henry Gibson is in it. He plays a gay landlord.
C&RV: How did you get Henry Gibson?
PH: I met him at the first cast & crew screening of Magnolia. He came up to me after the movie & was very complimentary of my work. He was just a really sweet & nice man. While I finished writing the screenplay, I was watching Magnolia & thought he would be perfect. So I sent him a script & a letter never thinking he would have time or anything. Then a week later I got a call from him & told me he really liked the script. He had some great ideas & said that he'd really like to do it which was great.
C&RV: Any experiences or advice while making your own film that you can share for aspiring directors?
PH: This was a really interesting experience for me making my own film. Just write something that you would like to see & everyday just do something to get it done. Whether that's talking to somebody about being in the film, trying to get your crew, give your script to people, etc. 
When you start working on films, you meet people & develop relationships. If you write something good, you'll find that people will want to help you make it. Don't listen to any of the conventional wisdom. You don't have to kiss up to people or sell your soul to make a film. 
A huge lesson that I learned from Paul is that he's really excited about what he's doing. More importantly, he's a nice man & he's nice to his cast & crew, so they have a tremendous amount of respect for him. 
They all have a good time on the set. If people believe in the project, they will do anything to help out. Paul shot Magnolia for six months, but everyone remained positive & would do anything for him. He also comes to work extremely prepared. 
If you think everything out ahead of time, half of your job is done when you get to the set.
C&RV: What else is on the horizon for you?
PH: In the spring, I finished filming In Memory of My Father, Ghost World with Steve Buscemi & I have a small part in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. But I've had the most fun shooting my own short film which I'm also acting in.
C&RV: Thanks for your time.
PH: Thanks a lot man. I frequent your site & I'm really honored to be a part of it.
And now, the moment some of you have been waiting for: The Winner Of The Poorly Planned Facebook/Twitter  Contest. The winner is Max Watts. Max wins a copy of PTA's 6 Music Videos DVD and having any future contest regulations/limitations named in his honor.

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  1. Great contest! Can't wait for future ones. Especially with these Max Watts limitations...

  2. haha. it is meant in good fun, and its more a reminder to myself to make sure ive actually thought out a contest before aimlessly posting it. ps: i do hope you can get back the 10-15% of the facebook friends you lost because of this... x

  3. Meh, who needs 'em. At least I know who my real friends are now...