An Interview With Patrick Fabian- Lead Actor in The Last Exorcism - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 2 Old 01-07-11, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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An Interview With Patrick Fabian- Lead Actor in The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism (nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for “Best First Feature”) released on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, January 4th. The film made #1 at the Box Office earning over $24 million during its opening weekend. In his highest-profile performance to date, Patrick Fabian plays the lead, Reverend Cotton Marcus (the film was originally titled COTTON), which earned him “Best Actor” in both the Toronto After Dark and Sitges 43rd International Film Festivals. Mr. Fabian was gracious enough to take some time to talk to me about the film, his role and a little about his life in general.

Cory Phoenix: Hey Patrick. How are you doing?
Patrick Fabian: I'm good man. Hey, I've got to let you know, I have my 12-week-old daughter on my lap, so if you hear any untoward sounds, it may be me, but it might be her as well.

C.P.: (Laughs) That's fine. It's Abbey Ray?
P.F.: Yeah, her name is Abbey Ray. That's right.

C.P.: How's fatherhood been these last few months?
P.F.: Fatherhood's been good, Do you have any kids yourself?
C.P.: No, I don't. Not yet. I’ve been married almost 6 years, but we're not ready yet.
P.F.: Well, I didn't think I was going to get married or have kids, and at 45 I found myself getting married and about a year later, I found myself having a daughter. It's great, and when you're ready, it's fantastic. But, if you're not ready, I suggest you stay that way, you know what I mean?
C.P.: Yeah, that's exactly what we're thinking. I don't want to jump into it until we're 100% sure.
P.F.: Absolutely. When you're ready, it'll be really fun, but if you do it too soon...Well, I've seen too many friends maybe make that mistake and it becomes a whole other kettle of fish to deal with.

C.P.: I can imagine! Well, let's talk about The Last Exorcism.
P.F.: Did you see it? Did you like it?
C.P.: I saw it. I heard mixed reviews, but I liked it, and I thought you did a fantastic job.
P.F.: Thank you, man. I appreciate that.

C.P.: So did Eli Roth have a big hand in the creation or was it mostly Daniel Stamm's baby?
P.F.: Well, it's definitely a Daniel Stamm film. He directed it. It was his vision and his storytelling. But without Eli Roth, we wouldn't have been making a movie and, without his enthusiasm when he visited us in New Orleans, we wouldn't have the SAME movie. I remember Eli being down there and saying things like ‘keep it real. "Keep making sure you're based in reality.’ And, ‘keep making it scarier.’ So, he was a really good cheerleader, and I had a really great experience working with him.

C.P.: You mentioned New Orleans. I noticed that the movie took place in Ivanwood, Louisiana, but I was wondering where the movie was actually filmed.
P.F.: Yeah, we got to shoot in New Orleans in the lower ninth ward, and it was still destroyed from Hurricane Katrina. So, we'd wake up in the morning in New Orleans, and then drive for 45 minutes. It was basically like driving back through time. We were on like the last plantation on the left in the lower ninth ward. It was spooky and creepy, and it provided the backdrop and a really great setting for us to be working on a spooky, creepy, horror film.

C.P.: Was the gator on the drive in planned or was that just a case of right place/right time?
P.F.: That was the first day of shooting on location -way back of the house -between the river and the bayou. We went out there and our first AD was like ‘um...we have an alligator.’ We're thinking, maybe it's a 4-foot alligator, but it was like a 7-foot alligator! God bless Daniel Stamm, because he said ’let's get in the van. Let's shoot it.’ We felt like we started off with a good omen that the critters were coming out to help with the film.
C.P.: Your face when you passed the alligator was classic.
P.F.: (Laughs) Well, there were a lot of things in the film where I'd like to say ‘what a great actor I am,’ and ‘I came up with this moment’ but, the fact of the matter is, and what I think translates to the audience is there's a lot of REAL stuff going on. That face is literally like ‘did you see that, man?! It's right out there!’ I think those kinds of things help people get on board for the ride.

C.P.: What did you think about the documentary style of filming? We've seen it a few times in the horror genre recently, but what did you think of the implementation?
P.F.: I thought it suited the story well, because the conceit is that Cotton Marcus is making a documentary to basically blow off his life. He's making a giant act of contrition and he's making his amends by confessing on film. So, it's not like we're trying to sneak in the camera. The camera is faded. Zoltan Honti, our cinematographer, was fantastic in being restrained with the fact that the camera is roving with us. I told someone the other day, some of that kind of camerawork can look like a 14-year-old boy with a JoltŪ Cola in him. It can be so kinetic.. For me, that can make me almost a little queasy, but, I think Zoltan did a good job of coming into a scene, laying into it and letting the audience see what they needed to see without being too obvious with the camerawork. He was restrained enough so that the story was allowed to be told.

C.P.: There were some times at the beginning of the movie, the banana bread scene for example, and when Cotton is showing the audience some of the hoaxes regarding exorcisms...If you're a religious person, they could be a bit unnerving to watch. How was playing such a difficult and contradictory character?
P.F.: Well, going back to the idea that this is a grand confession for him, I think we do see a change in Cotton from the beginning to the end. If nothing else, he rediscovers a faith of some sort. The movie starts off with him being in the middle of a mid-life crisis, and I don't think there's anybody that hasn't come to a crossroads where they're not sure who they are, what they're doing, what they believe in. I think we find Cotton Marcus right at that moment. I think the idea of being able to say ’I don't know, and I'm unsure of the cloth that I wear and the things that I do.’ I think that's something that anyone can relate to, especially since his stated goal is to expose this. I think we all want to see somebody confess to their sins and we, if nothing else, as a movie going audience, love to see someone try to make it right. Come clean and rebirth themselves phoenix-style.

C.P.: What's your feeling on exorcisms being a hoax to swindle money? Is that a personal belief or was that just part of the character?
P.F.: Well, I have no personal experience with exorcisms, so I'm not going to throw the whole thing overboard. We got to work with a guy down there named Reverend Jones. He's a reverend and he has performed exorcisms. He told me so. There's a truth to what he's telling me that I can't debunk nor do I wish to. He told me very matter-of-factly ’oh yeah, I've pulled stuff out of people and I've made the devil leave people.’ He's dead serious about that. Who am I to say that he's lying or pulling one over on me? I do believe very much, and I believe Cotton even says in the film, that if somebody thinks they're sick and they think I'm a doctor, and then I come and say they're healed and they feel better, then what's so bad about that? And, if I'm going to take a few bucks along the way, what's so bad about that either?
C.P.: You're providing a service, as Cotton said.
P.F.: Exactly! I'm not saying I'm a doctor, but I think with Cotton, that's what the grey area is. It's a slippery slope moralistically, because he is presenting himself as a preacher. It goes back to why he's making this video. He wants to come clean and get his head straight about it all.

C.P.: He also compares the similarities between being a reverend and being an actor. Do you see those similarities or is it simply a similarity of an actor playing a reverend on screen?
P.F.: I think they both have similar qualities. When I was doing my research, I was coming across some of the great televangelists/charlatans of our age like Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart. They all have certain qualities and one of those is they don't mind standing on stage being the center of attention. They don't mind telling the audience or congregation to ’listen to me, I have something to say. I know what I'm talking about.’ And, they also don't mind relieving the audience of a couple of their dollars on the way out. There's a lot of show that goes into those things, making it real, the emotional arc and all that. So I think any good preacher and any good actor share very similar qualities.

C.P.: Alright, I'm going to shift gears a little bit and ask you about Ashley Bell's performances. Some of those were disturbingly frightening. What was going through your mind as you were seeing it on the set?
P.F.: Well, she sprung that on us, basically. I wasn't sure what she was going to come up with or what she was going to do. The exorcism scenes were so intense because she was so committed. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I can be as good as I want to be as the preacher, but if you don't believe the possessed girl in an exorcist movie, then you don't have a movie. You know what I mean?
C.P.: Yeah, I thought she did an unbelievable job.
P.F.: We all believed her. How about that shot where we're shutting the door and she looks right at the camera at the last second? Everybody in the audience was like ’awwww, dude!’ (Laughs) And, that was totally her bringing it. And, the exorcism, there's no CGI with Ashley Bell. She did all of that herself. I just had to stand there and react. I didn't really have to act at all.

C.P.: Was it more frightening seeing it in person or the first time you watched the movie?
P.F.: It was absolutely very creepy and scary seeing it in person because it was an intense day. We're in that barn and it smells and there are implements of mass destruction hanging on all the walls. It's hot and rainy and sweaty and we're tired and overworked and we get in that barn and she starts throwing that stuff out at us. What I liked about the film work-wise is in that scene, there's literally just the six of us in the room. There's Ashley and me and the cameraman and Iris and Louis and we all feel like there's something at stake there. The claustrophobic feel was real, and I think the camera captures that.
C.P.: Yeah, sometimes it's tough as the viewer to pick up on those details, the smells and the thingsyou're actually feeling there. It's interesting to hear you say that because there's another element there that may be difficult to pick up on watching the film.
P.F: Yeah, I think so. There's also a musical element that helps lead you down that path as well. But, when I go walking into that barn and it's raining on the back of my suit, then that door closes and she unleashes her thing. I mean it took a lot of us to drive the car to that point, but I think we were all glad when we found that parking spot.

C.P.: Cotton says (and I'm paraphrasing here) ‘if you're a Christian and you believe in Jesus Christ, then you have to believe in the devil and you have to believe in demons.’ Do you personally believe in demons or ghosts?
P.F.: I do believe in ghosts and demons as a matter of fact. First of all I don't think there's anybody that hasn't, for example, house-sat for somebody and they're sitting there watching TV and then all of a sudden the hair goes up on the back of their neck. Then they look around down the hallway or behind the couch for something. And then they freak out. Right? I've been there. I've turned on all the lights in a strange person's house before, opened the front door and said "please leave," and all that kind of stuff that you said you'd never do. (Chuckles) I think everyone has those stories. I definitely think there's something else out there. I don't know how good we are at plugging into it. I think our best efforts are child-like at best.

C.P.: Ok, well moving away from the scary stuff, you have a very impressive TV resume. Do you prefer acting for TV or for movies?
P.F.: You know it's funny. I get that question a lot now, having done this film. I just like to work, man. It just so happens that most of my work has been lined up for television, you know? I never broke into movies early in my career. It's a tough game as you can see. When you go to the movies there seems to only be a handful of people that continue to work. It's a hard business, so I'm just glad that I get to work. Whether it's on stage or on film or on television, pretty much the next job that comes along, I'm signing up for. I like doing it all and staying busy.

C.P.: So hopefully we'll be seeing you in more movies in the future, right?
P.F.: Absolutely! I hope so, too. I'd be willing to do The REALLY Last Exorcism if they want to write that. (Laughs)
C.P.: I don't want to spoil the ending of the movie for those that haven't yet seen it, so maybe off the record I'll get your opinion on the ending of the movie.
P.F.: Sure. No problem.

C.P.: I don't think I'd be doing my job if I didn't ask you about Professor Lasky's love affair with dream girl Kelly Kapowski. What was it like working with the cast of Saved By The Bell?
P.F.: If I go to my grave and all they say about me is he kissed Kelly Kapowski, I will be immortal. (Laughs) Working with those guys was great, man, and I can't thank Saved By The Bell enough. They keep me alive. You know, that was like 15 years ago, but TBS keeps running the bajeezus out of those shows, again and again and again. It just appeals to generation after generation for the last 15 years. I always say that Saved By The Bell is the perfect show to watch before high school and after high school. It's a great show to watch with a bag of potato chips and your friends. When you don't want to think too much and you just want some eye candy and some good chuckles. Those kids were great to work with. Totally fun, and Tiffani Amber Thiessen particularly was wonderful. I feel very lucky to be one of the few men who have gotten to kiss her on camera, there's no doubt about it.

C.P.: (Laughing) So are you still earning royalties every time the show runs?
P.F.: Oh yeah, it's enough to buy me a cup of coffee every now and then. I'm sure the other kids do a little bit better. But, you know what? It's a free cup of coffee 15 years later, so it's a gift.

C.P.: Tell me a little about Working Class.
P.F.: What I'm working on now is a new sitcom coming out that couldn't be more the opposite of playing a preacher in a horror film. I'm in a half-hour sitcom with Ed Asner and Melissa Peterman. It's called Working Class and it'll be debuting on CMT, January 28th.

C.P.: What's the story behind Working Class?
P.F.: Well, Melissa Peterman plays a twice-divorced mom who's struggling to make ends meet for her kids. She's working at the grocery store that I own, and that my father owns the chain of. We are interested in one another, but we are definitely from different sides of the track. This is the first time that CMT is doing scripted television, so they're really excited about it as well.

C.P.: I'll definitely be checking that out. My last question is, I'm sure everyone at wants to know what Patrick Fabian is packing in his own home theater. So how do you like to watch movies or listen to music? Tell us a little about the equipment you have in your own home theater at your house.
P.F.: Wow, well what my home theater system is, is it's in need of an upgrade. You know, I was planning on upgrading before my daughter was born, but never got around to it. Now that my daughter is here I have different priorities. Right now I have a 52" DLP. I got the DLP about five years ago and I just recently got the lens replaced and it was like they washed the grit right off the television it was so clear and beautiful. So I'm loving that right now. I don't have a 5.1 digital surround sound. I just got an Apple TV for Christmas, so I need to hook that up and start downloading from the internet to see how that works. Unfortunately, I was just starting to get into tech stuff and then my daughter comes along, so I had to re-prioritize a little bit. That might be next Christmas for me.
C.P.: I can understand that. Be sure to check out home theater shack when you're looking to upgrade, though. It's a really helpful site with professionals that know a lot about home theater.
P.F.: Good. I'm definitely going to need help. I'm an Apple guy, so it's all iPhone for me for music and my stereo system is basically putting the iPhone into a Bose SoundDock. So if you want to post on the website that if anyone wants to give me a free upgrade or some free advice, I'd be more than willing to take it! (Laughs)
C.P.: (Laughing) I'll see what I can do. They've been giving away free speakers and components here lately to members, so who knows?
P.F.: How about some signed copies of The Last Exorcism for, I don't know, a home theater system! That sounds fair doesn't it? (Laughs)

C.P.: Alright, that's all I've got for you, Mr. Fabian. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. Congratulations on the success of The Last Exorcism in theaters and good luck with the DVD and Blu-ray release today (January 4th).
P.F.: No problem. Thanks for putting this on the site and reviewing the film and helping to get the word out there. I really appreciate it.

Click Here to read the Blu-ray Review of The Last Exorcism.
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post #2 of 2 Old 02-12-11, 03:13 PM
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