Ju­lia Molony

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA -

US ac­tor Pa­trick Wil­son talks to about play­ing the bad guy in ‘Aqua­man’, be­ing a news junkie and feel­ing at home in Europe

HE’S a ver­sa­tile ac­tor whose ca­reer spans mu­si­cal the­atre, heavy­weight drama and hor­ror, so it comes as no sur­prise that Pa­trick Wil­son also makes a mas­ter­ful comic book vil­lain.

His raspy evil-voice, which makes a sur­prise ap­pear­ance dur­ing our in­ter­view in Lon­don is pitch-per­fect first go. In Aqua­man, the Warner Brothers adap­ta­tion of the DC comic, Wil­son plays the mega­lo­ma­niac half-brother to the tit­u­lar hero. As Orm, aka Ocean­mas­ter, he pulls off a bravura range of malev­o­lent ex­pres­sion, from sour-grapes to scowl­ing in­ten­sity to cold-blooded schem­ing.

But per­haps most cru­cially, even within the lim­its of the declam­a­tory act­ing-style that is built-in to a comic-book movie, his por­trayal of Orm is in no way two-di­men­sional. On the con­trary it’s com­plex, nu­anced and in many ways, re­lat­able.

Wil­son is one of those Hol­ly­wood ac­tors who is al­ways in de­mand, with­out ever grad­u­at­ing to the level of pa­parazzi-hunted megas­tar. His CV is im­pres­sively long and in­cludes mega-bud­get flicks, in­de­pen­dent films and niche hor­ror. But after he’s fin­ished to­day’s promo du­ties, he can al­most cer­tainly take a stroll around the streets of cen­tral Lon­don with his fam­ily, with­out getting mobbed by scream­ing fans.

It says some­thing about him that he ap­proaches the char­ac­ter of Orm with the same se­ri­ous­ness as he did, say Joe Pitt in Mike Ni­chols’s HBO adap­ta­tion of An­gels in Amer­ica — the role that launched his ca­reer and won him a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion.

He, has, he says, never viewed a comic as “just a comic. I feel these great sto­ries carry the archetypes and are our con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of Greek tragedy, Shake­speare, what­ever it is. These huge larger-than-life char­ac­ters”. He’s played a huge range of dif­fer­ent gen­res, and takes an en­tirely demo­cratic view about all of them. “I went to the­atre school and I viewed mu­si­cal the­atre like I did Chekhov, like I did Shake­speare. And con­tem­po­rary work. There’s no judg­ment. And I think a lot of that comes from when you are a young ac­tor, you just want to work. Your goal is re­ally, can you do what you love and sup­port your­self ?”

His Aqua­man char­ac­ter is the bad guy, but he also car­ries the film’s very timely en­vi­ron­men­tal mes­sage. Orm wants to wage a war against mankind, as re­venge for the decades of de­struc­tion it has wrought on the ocean. It’s a po­si­tion

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