Patrick Wilson – Conjuring Up Something Insidious
by Jay S. Jacobs
If Patrick Wilson has been looking a little haunted lately, it is not just a coincidence. In the last few years, Wilson and horror director James Wan (Saw, Death Sentence) have teamed up on three films in which Wilson has played a family man who must deal with ghosts, demons and spirits in the night. The last two of these films have come out in just the past few months.
It all started three years ago with the surprise hit Insidious. In that film, Wilson and Rose Byrne played a young couple who moved their family into a new house, only to find that their son had attracted a strange demon. This evil spirit started wreaking havoc on the family at night, kidnapping the son and taking him to a very evil dark zone in a separate reality.
This summer, Wilson made the transition from the haunted to the ghost hunter in the surprising smash hit The Conjuring. This film was based on a case from real life paranormal investigator Ed Warren, who was famous for looking into The Amityville Horror as well as many other hauntings. Together with his psychic wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga), he tried to rid an old country house of the malevolent spirit which is antagonizing the family of Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor.
Now the Insidious story continues – literally, Insidious: Chapter 2 starts right as the first film was ending. The family has literally just saved the son from the darkness, but it turns out that the horror was not over yet. Wilson’s character becomes more complex in the sequel as the dark forces take over his body in a continuing attempt to get to the child.
All of this horror was kind of new for Wilson, but then again, the actor has always had an adventurous streak when it comes to taking roles. Over the years, Wilson has shown his proficiency in a mind-boggling array of films, everything from action/adventure (The A-Team, Watchmen, Promethius) to comedy (Young Adult, The Switch) to period drama (The Alamo, Evening) to very dark looks at life (Hard Candy, Running with Scissors). He even did a musical (the film version of Phantom of the Opera).
A few weeks before Insidious: Chapter 2 opened (on Friday the 13, naturally…), we sat down with Wilson at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York to discuss his career and things that go bump in the night.
You’ve done three ghost films in the last couple of years.
Do you believe in ghosts and spirits?
They’re not making me see them, if that’s what you mean. (laughs) I think, yeah, no. This is such a different beast than The Conjuring. It’s a whole different kind of ghost, I guess, for lack of a better term. But yeah, I’m still ghost free. So far.
But did the making of the movies cause you to ponder their existence?
Sure. No, no, no, no. I gave it thought. I’ve given it a lot of thought, trust me. (laughs) I’m certainly open to it. I think because Conjuring was sort of rooted [in the real world]… you know this is much more of a fantasy film. So it’s a much different bit of astral projection and these crazy demons. It’s a much different beast. On Conjuring, because it was rooted in their reality, in their case stories, through that I learned a lot about ghosts and demons. I think there is definitely another world at play, but I think that even if technically the same ghost was in this room, we would all see it differently. I think that’s the way I feel about it, if that makes sense.
Vera Farmiga talked a little bit about her unexplained paranormal experiences working on The Conjuring. In the Insidious movies or The Conjuring were there any eerie or spooky things that happened to you? It was two different movies by the same director. What was the atmosphere like?
It’s also based on shooting schedule. I mean, the Insidious movies, the first one was what, 22, 23 days? This was 26 days. This is a much more aggressive, brutal schedule. Whereas Conjuring was a studio film, it had five times this budget. You had three months to shoot. It was based on a real story. It’s a whole different beast. That being said, [there was] almost the exact same crew, so we’ve all now been together quite a bit, with those guys. In three movies, going back I guess three years. It was a much different vibe. Again, I think because you’re dealing with this – in The Conjuring this tag line of “Based on a true story” – and things were real, at least from somebody’s perspective. That and you’re dealing with The Bible and religion and demons, that carries much more significant weight than like… nothing really weird happens on this set. I think when people shot in Linda Vista, the hospital, I think that was creepy for a lot of people. But, yeah, nothing really strange happened.