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