Patrick Fischler is a virtual scene stealer in everything he’s in, and whether it’s on television (Mad Men, Lost) or films (The Black Dahlia, Mulholland Drive), there’s a good chance his work has come across your doorstep.
With The Pact 2, Fischler is FBI Agent Ballard, a laser focused tough guy who’s bent on catching a serial killer, even if it means alienating his colleagues as well as June Abbott (Grey’s Anatomy star Camilla Luddington), a woman who has a tragic connection to the killer. Though the narrative’s main focus centers on June’s journey (Caity Lotz, who played Annie in the first film, also returns), Ballard is a key player in the equation.
During our phone interview, Mr. Fischler covered a variety of topics, including working with talented The Pact 2 directors (Dallas Richard Hallam, Patrick Horvath), his previous collaborations with Brian De Palma and David Lynch, and the creative opportunities that have opened up thanks to Video On Demand (VOD).
Sidenote: If you’re a huge Brian De Palma fan, Fischler offers up interesting insight about working on The Black Dahlia (since De Palma’s my favorite filmmaker, I’m very biased toward his work, and it’s great that Fischler has an even eyed look when discussing his De Palma experience).
The Pact 2 is currently available on VOD and opens in theaters October 10.
Agent Ballard is a no-nonsense guy who doesn’t suffer any fools.
I think not suffering any fools is exactly a perfect way to describe it. I don’t think this guy can deal with anyone who’s not excellent at what they want to do. I didn’t want to play him as offbeat or weird – that wasn’t my intention. I think he is socially awkward and he is someone who is incredibly good at what he does and when something slips by he doesn’t tolerate it. If someone’s not doing their job at their utmost best, he’s not someone who hides it.
That can come off as sort of weird and different or intense and all that is accurate and fine, but none of that was in my mind. That’s how it came to me.
There’s a sequence in the middle of the film where Ballard has an intense sequence with June (Camilla Luddington).
You mean the scene when she’s coming out of the bathroom?
All of that is accurate – that’s actually great. I think he sees a kinship in her. He sees her as incredibly smart, but she’s doing dumb things. I think that’s driving him crazy. He’s trying to get through to her – and the way he does it, like I said, comes across as intense, for lack of a better word.
In that moment, she’s broken into a crime scene, so for him that’s intolerable. Once he gets past that this was done, he really wants to find everything he can about her and this is their first like real moment fully alone. Every other time either her boyfriend or another cop’s been there. So this is his chance to get really underneath what is really going on with her.
The Pact 2 directors have a really unique visual and narrative aesthetic – is that how you felt about working on this project?
Yeah, I think Dallas and Patrick are incredibly talented. What really sold me was when I saw their first movie Entrance which they made for like $9,000. It just had a different quality about it and (the film) drove me to meet them.
When I met with them, I thought they were fantastic and I’d work with them anytime. I really do feel that way. We’ve become friends. They are not cookie cutter (filmmakers).
They love movies. I love movies. I think if you have a passion for film – that’s a drive right there. That just makes you want to do something interesting and not just do what everybody else does.
Who were some of your acting influences during your youth?
I think earlier for me it was Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Those were the guys that drove me the most. As an adult – the movies they make now, I rarely see. But when I was young, their stuff pushed me to no end. Meryl Streep was always one of my biggest influences. I love how she disappears and what she does completely and wholeheartedly.
When I get a part, I just have to find the part of me that’s in that guy. Even if it’s a tiny little bit, and then just go from there. That’s how I start.
My favorite director is Brian De Palma, and you had the chance to work with him on The Black Dahlia. What was it like working with such a visualist?
I grew up a ginormous Brian De Palma fan. Carrie, Dressed to Kill, and Blow Out – I can’t even describe what . . . I probably shouldn’t have seen them the age I saw them. I was quite young when I saw all those movies.
So when I got to meet him when I went for The Black Dahlia – it was a win-win. His style unlike anybody’s. I think what’s held him back recently – he had such a great peak in the 1970s and 80s and I feel like he hasn’t (had) scripts that he’s connected with in the same way. Not that the films haven’t been good – The Black Dahlia had a lot of good stuff in it.
Working with him was great. We were in Bulgaria and we had a great time. The movie wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be. His visual style was there, but it didn’t kind of connect like I said. Maybe that’s a problem he’s faced recently with his movies, but he is so immensely talented.
Talent doesn’t disappear. With actors, directors, and writers – it just doesn’t go away – we all have projects that doesn’t end up being exactly what we want them to be.
One of your acting highlights must have been working with David Lynch on Mulholland Drive and with Twin Peaks coming back on Showtime….
Oh it’s the best news day for me – I love Twin Peaks.
Two part question. How great was it to be a part of David Lynch’s universe and also – with more streaming and cable network options, is it a great time to be an actor as well as a viewer?
David Lynch is a master and like De Palma – The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet were groundbreaking for me when I was young. Both those movies meant a lot to me. Getting to work with him – and Twin Peaks was my favorite show. When it was on, I was obsessed with it.
Working with Lynch was – we have those moments in our life that we’re always going to sort of cherish. That will be one I’ll always have in my back pocket.
I just remembered as if it was yesterday. He’s a fantastic director with actors not only with what he does visually. What he said to me that day, I’ll never forget. It was great. Working with him was really, really special and I can only hope I get to do it again. So that was amazing.
As for VOD, I will never stop going to a movie theater. There are a lot of people who’ve stopped going to movie theaters because it’s just so easy to watch it at home and that’s fantastic. What VOD and streaming has given us is the ability to watch anything anywhere.
What VOD has done (for actors) is incredible. It’s opening doors to people who wouldn’t get to work if it was just the way it used to be. It’s opening doors for writers and directors. More movies are being made and are being thrown on VOD.
Most people now at home are asking ‘Honey what do you want to watch tonight, let’s see what’s streaming.’ And they just go and look as opposed to, ‘Honey what do you want to watch tonight in the theater, tonight?’ It’s really changed the business, and it’s going to continue to change.
Can you talk about your upcoming projects? Are you working on Shameless and an untitled Warren Beatty film?
With Shameless, I’m going to be in the new season. It was a complete blast. It’s a totally different part that I normally play. It’s very emotional, funny, weird and warped. So I loved doing that.
The Warren Beatty film – it was a phone call. Basically, for lack of a better word, it’s a cameo. If you blink you’ll miss it. But I got to work with him, so my answer was an immediate ‘yes’ when they called.
And the same producers of The Pact 2 did a movie called The Diabolical, which is starring Ali Larter that I’m in and it’s going to be a total rollercoaster ride. So all has been good, I have to say. Things are doing great.
What is your key of staying in the moment?
I don’t get lost in . . . I’m not a method actor. I talk to everybody. I hang out. I can snap pretty quickly into (the scene) unless it’s a very emotional thing. If it’s some kind of emotion, I really need to kind of stand on my own, listen to music, and just be peaceful. But if it’s any other type of job I’m doing, it’s very easy to be Patrick and then be the character. It’s the way I work.
Patrick – thank you for the talk and I hope to interview you for the next one.
Thank you so much, man. It’s a pleasure. Take care.
Co-starring Caity Lotz (Mad Men) and Amy Pietz (Caroline in the City), The Pact 2 is currently available on VOD and opens in theaters October 10.