by Moonah Ellison
Some people just get all the luck. But when that lucky person is as charming as Patrick Wilson, it’s hard to be resentful. Behind the movie-star good looks, Wilson has an impressive brain and an equally impressive set of pipes. Since the mid-nineties, he has been singing in the lead roles in major Broadway musicals. Wilson has a passion for music in its many forms; he’s been drumming since he was eight and plays, for fun, in a band with his two brothers (Van Halen covers are a popular set). The fact that he is just as comfortable on a stage (or jamming with a family band) as he is on the silver screen is a testament to Wilson’s character.
Although it may seem to some like he burst on the scene just a few years ago, Wilson’s really a seasoned veteran of the acting world, getting his start in acting and theatre in childhood. But it wasn’t until he was dragged by a friend to a pre-college theatre program at Boston University that he really found his passion for the art. “That was the first time, truly, that acting didn’t feel presentational; I remember reading some of the scenes we were doing, and being affected by them and emotionally moved by them, and I thought, ‘Wow, if theatre can make me feel like that, then maybe I can make people feel like that.’”
In 2003, he appeared in the HBO mini-series Angels in America. Wilson has since appeared in more than 18 feature films, including The Phantom of the Opera; Little Children opposite Kate Winslet; and what some consider his “breakout role” in Hard Candy with Ellen Page. Wilson has Young Adult coming out opposite Charlize Theron, which happens to be directed by Jason Reitman, he who has two Best Picture Oscar nods under his belt in Juno and Up in the Air. His next blockbuster comes in the form of a sci-fi thriller directed by Ridley Scott called Prometheus, due next summer. To say that the man is busy would be an understatement, yet he hasn’t let it get to his head. He just seems happy to be doing what he enjoys doing – acting.
Wilson is now starring in the CBS drama A Gifted Man, which began in the fall. He’s enjoying the short break from movies, glad to be working in New York, close to his kids. “You only have one shot to be there to see your oldest son go to kindergarten. That grounds everything, and I never looked at that as a sacrifice.” The show, too, about a talented but self-absorbed surgeon who starts questioning his purpose in life when he is visited by the spirit of his deceased ex-wife, has had a profound effect on the actor.
“One of the primary reasons I love this character is that he seems so headstrong and focused, and arrogant and dismissive of so many things, and yet he’s so gifted at his job. He’s rocked to the core of who he is as a person and [is] doubting everything; and then he finds faith – not even just a spiritual faith, but faith in people.”
Born to a professional opera singer and a news anchor in Norfolk, Virginia, and married to Polish-American actress Dagmara Dominczyk, Wilson has two sons, the oldest of which, he says, is just starting to process what his father does for a living. “His friends don’t get it when they see me kissing someone [on TV]; he sort of weirdly understands it. He says ‘this is fake daddy, right?’” But Wilson loves the ability to work with his family nearby. “The first set he was on was Watchmen,” he shares. “So if he thought I was a superhero that wasn’t such a bad thing.”
A steady, consistent actor, Wilson has the versatility and staying power needed to make it in the acting business, and he has a realistic view of his business; a balance of the opportunities and the sacrifices of the acting lifestyle. “You know, all actors wanna do is work, and when they work they’re frustrated with what they’re missing while they work,” he says good-naturedly. “I’ve been fortunate to be working consistently in a lot of different roles and genres, so I’m happy to be sort of out of the fray while doing the show.” While he’s played many serious, no-nonsense roles, he admits that the most fun he’s ever had acting was in a quirky, offbeat comedy called Barry Munday.
Though self-admittedly not “incredibly politically minded,” Wilson is aware of the impact we make on our world and is working to making sure his children watch their water consumption. “I think I’m more conscious when I think about my kids and the world for them; I think more of the condition of the world, not so much the political climate.” He laughs: “I say that to people, ‘You know this isn’t the 70’s! The water gets hot very quickly. You don’t have to turn it on and then leave the room!’” Still, he can’t avoid being drawn to the recent political debates and turmoil surrounding the now-global Occupy Wall Street protests. “I keep going back to what Obama said in his acceptance speech in Chicago, saying this is a long road! It just cannot be done in one term… so anybody on either side of the coin that’s saying, ‘It’s failed, we have to move on’… it frustrates me, because we know it’s going to take a long time.”
Wilson also tactfully discusses the concept of tolerance in politics and the importance of focusing on real issues, rather than getting hung up on details that are more petty than they are useful – whether he likes an individual’s politics or not. “It’s interesting watching Mitt Romney being backed into a corner about religion, because it’s such an easy target. And again, I may disagree with most things Romney says, however, when he says that religion should not play a part of this his point was right… that when this country was formed, so many of these people were escaping religious persecution. So why are we […] trying to diffuse all the ideals of religion?”
If the past few years are any indication, Wilson will be stay busy, gracing us with his charm and his easy on-screen presence; a presence that is just as charming and easy in real life. His current project is an apt description… simply gifted.