Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Will Patton: Actor Who's More Than Fashionably Private

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Will Patton: Actor Who's More Than Fashionably Private

Article excerpt

* The classic character performer says he is lured to a role by something that is happening in his life at the time.

LOTS OF entertainers give you the big blah-blah about what private people they really are. Makes you wonder why you can find a fat stack of stories about them in which no peccadillo goes unturned. Sheeeessh!

That's why actor Will Patton doesn't want to talk about his reticence and reserve: "We've read this a hundred times. I mean all actors talk about how shy they are . . . ." Difference is: If you look for the usual raft of articles about him, all you come up with is one encyclopedic entry about his career and one story about his reading for books on tape - a file so thin it makes Kate Moss look like Luciano Pavarotti. Patton, 41, is a classic character actor: Moviegoers know the face, but when it comes to the name . . . uhh, give me a minute. He's been in "Silkwood," "After Hours," "Desperately Seeking Susan," "The Rapture," "The Client," "Romeo is Bleeding," "Copycat," "Fled" and "Care of the Spitfire Grill." Next, he's the patriarch of the title family in the GenXers-caught-in-the-'50s-film "Inventing the Abbotts." He initially chafed at taking his latest role because he didn't think he was old enough to play the father of daughters already out of high school. Then the casting director persuaded him that in 1957, when the movie is set, a man his age could conceivably have full-grown children. "I wanted to try to do it, because I didn't know how," he says. As for what generally lures him to a role, he says: "I think there's gotta be something in the story or the character that somehow corresponds to something I'm thinking about at the moment." Yet, he's vague - purposely - about what he means. "Just something that's going on in my life. It could be any number of things. Something that's going on personally, something that I've been thinking about, something that has happened to me," he says. "Personal things that I'm interested in. Which actually I would never talk about in an interview. So that's probably why I would play a character." Patton's answer makes clear that he's loathe to relinquish his privacy. On this day, he's arrived wearing a baseball cap and a beard, as incognito as he can be. "I probably would not be able to survive, no matter what I did, without a particular kind of private life," he says. "I don't know, I think it's just my nature. "Of course there's the whole thing about what a strange thing to be doing if you're a private person - like, why would a monk want to have a camera on him for millions of people (to watch him). Strange." When he arrived in New York City years ago, he thought he wanted to be a writer, but people took him seriously for acting. "I didn't know what I was doing," says the actor who won two Obies for his off-Broadway performances in the '80s. …

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