Patrick Kilpatrick on doing stunts, working with Tom Cruise and Christopher Walken, Night Walk and Active Shooter

by Jennie Kermode

Patrick Kilpatrick in Eraser
Patrick Kilpatrick in Eraser

In the first part of my interview with Patrick Kilpatrick, one of the screen’s most prolific bad guys, we talked about how he came to be cast so often as a villain, his work for and ongoing friendship with Nicolas Roeg, and his autobiography Dying For A Living. In part two we began by talking about some of the many stars he’s worked with and I asked if he found that his experiences with them had helped him to develop his own acting.

“I’m generally so prepared by the time I arrive on the set that one of the things I don’t want to do is pick up the energy of another actor – unless it’s appropriate to do so – because you’re operating to a different set of goals,” he says. “I don’t know that I learned that much about acting. I think probably Christopher Walken had the most fascinating way of working and the most different that I’ve ever seen. He essentially has a line like ‘Hi there, how are you?’ and he’ll say it like 30 different ways.” He breaks off briefly to illustrate what this sounds like. “So the director is left with 30 different really interesting things to play with.

“Or you take a guy like Tom Cruise. Tom is a very dedicated person to produce a great film. He’s there 100%, and I appreciate that, because I am. The worst thing is an actor who doesn’t deliver the goods or is phoning it in, and there are those people out there and I talk a lot about them in the book. But Tom is very dedicated and also, I appreciate kindness, people who are easy going and fun to work with are really important.”

Patrick Kilpatrick in Black Water
Patrick Kilpatrick in Black Water

Sometimes people surprise him, as Arnold Schwarzenegger did when they met on the set of Eraser.

“I was prepared for him to be very arrogant but he wasn’t at all. He was a sweetheart, and a complete joker.

“That said, there are crazies. There’s a gang of about seven where if you’re a producer you want to isolate them from the rest of the cast. But they’re interesting personas as well and they provided a lot of fodder for Dying For A Living.”

Another big factor in the direction that Patrick’s career has taken has been his habit of doing his own stunts.

“You know, one of the things about being an actor is to increase your usefulness,” he says. “That’s why I do a lot of dialects. I was always an athlete and always very physical. I grew up with horses and wrestling and baseball, football and basketball and swimming and all that stuff so it was natural for me to do the physical aspects of the acting because you can get a more seamless shot. Now I did have a stunt double named Dave Rowden for about a decade, and Dave did some very memorable, very lethal stuff, like my death scene in Last Man Standing where – you know what a ratchet is? A ratchet is where they put a harness on you and they yank you backwards when you’ve been shot by a bullet or something and it blows you out the door. I’d done them. I did a bunch of them with Jean-Claude Van Damme in Death Warrant and frankly don’t care if I never do any of them again. I really hate them. But he did the one in Last Man Standing and it was a complete cock-up because they forgot to calculate the height of the porch he was coming off of so he almost got blown across the street.

Patrick Kilpatrick stars with Sean Stone in Night Walk
Patrick Kilpatrick stars with Sean Stone in Night Walk

“I always like doing new things like if you’re blasting through a window with two guns, the window’s made out of explosive glass and they explode it just as you go through, or precision driving. I’ve always enjoyed driving and doing stunt driving. So when they let me, I’ll do it. Tom Cruise seems to have taken that to the nth degree. He’s now risking his life in every shot with his Mission: Impossible things, but I understand the impulse. For me, it’s exhilarating to do new things. I had to do so much fighting in so many movies that that got to be kind of old. You’re learning new things in the sense that you’re doing new and arresting choreography but you’re still... It’s not like blowing yourself through a window. There’s kind of a rush to doing something you’ve never done before.”

There are two films he’s been working on recently, Night Walk and Active Shooter. I ask what he can tell me about them.

“Well, Night Walk is kind of a Romeo and Juliet, western journalist meets eastern Muslim beauty thing. The journalist is played by Sean Stone, Oliver Stone’s son. The love story ends tragically and the journalist is sent to prison falsely. I play the guy who runs the prison and as I’m described I’m a towering vessel of hate... So that’s a lot of fun.

Dying For A Living
Dying For A Living

“Active Shooter is an interesting thing that I’m directing actually. We went out and shot about 500 hours of footage around active shooters and what I call the culture of theft in Hollywood, which is the stealing of intellectual property. We shot a lot of improvisational stuff and used real SWAT teams and fire departments and everything. We got a lot of animal and natural environment imagery so I’m cutting that together now. It’s in post production. It’ll either come out brilliantly or I won’t release it but that’s what I’m working on with that right now. And of course, Black Water with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren is on VoD right now. And I’m polishing volume two of Dying For A Living, which is all showbusiness all the time.”

Read what Patrick Kilpatrick had to say about Nicolas Roeg, Sean Connery, Steven Spielberg and the film he’s currently shooting, Catalyst.

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