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Patrick Wilson won't do horror —except for 'The Conjuring'

The actors talks about loving horror director James Wan (also of "Insidious") and doing his Elvis impersonation.

Patrick Wilson doesn’t want to be a horror actor. And yet he’s been in four of the most successful horror films of the last five years.The Tony-nominated actor has appeared in “Insidious” and its first sequel, plus “The Conjuring” and its new follow-up — all four directed by one person: James Wan of “Saw” and “Furious 7.”

Wilson isn’t likely to do horror for anyone else, especially since “The Conjuring 2” — in which he reprises his role as paranormal psychologist Ed Warren, who investigates potential ghosts along with his wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) — allows him to do very un-horror movie things, like regale some frightened children with an Elvis song.

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First off, nice Elvis impersonation.
[Laughs, adopts Elvis voice] Thank you. Thank you very much.

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Was that something that was in the script or did you and James Wan come up with it on the spot?
I’ve tried that in every movie I’ve been in, and no director has ever bit. [Laughs] No, that was his idea. When he came on board [for the second one], that was the first scene he wrote. I got this text randomly asking, “Do you play guitar?” I responded, [sounds suspicious] “Yes, why? What do you have in mind? Is this some charity benefit you want me to do for you?” I remember thinking, ‘OK, here we go.’ That shows you a lot about him. I love the fact that he’s constantly trying to push the genre.

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His horror movies are like that: They have real meat for the actors.
James knows how to create scares better than anyone. But he also loves character. When you think about the great horror films, there’s always something else, whether it’s adult drama or it's about parent-child relationships, husbands and wives, family and stress.

You want to have those character moments. You want to get invested in these relationships. Vera would say the same thing: We love playing these people. They have very human moments, and I think that’s why people actually enjoy these films. That’s why there’s the Elvis scene, the romantic moments Ed and Lorraine have. That’s the good stuff.

It is a cool portrait of a couple. You rarely see married people who are that much in love in movies.
That’s true. It’s nice to play, to have it. Otherwise we’d be bored. [Chuckles]

Since doing these films, do you tend to get a lot of horror scripts?
I would imagine my manager and agents do. I don’t, because they know I would just turn them all down. [Laughs] If someone has the guts to say to me, “I have this horror script,” it doesn’t get past the “h” and I say, “I’m not interested.” People will try to do it in different ways: “Well, it’s more of a thriller!” Right. Sure it is.

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You’ve talked about wanting to do bigger films — or popular shows, like “Fargo” — because you hate when you work hard on an indie and no one sees it. What about something like last year’s “Bone Tomahawk”? That got a small release but people are really discovering it on video.
I had a similar experience with “Hard Candy.” I think “Bone Tomahawk” will be a very similar thing — it will have that cult following. I think it’ll last. It was a fantastic experience. Please: You just had to say “Kurt Russell” and “horses,” and I’m in.

The only drag is when you do the bigger movies and you have more time. When you do the smaller movies you see how hard it is on everyone. You just want two more days. That’s what’s frustrating.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
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