Acclaimed actor Patrick Wilson has credited his brother, Paul, with first getting him into acting. Paul went on to become an anchor, while Patrick became a Broadway and screen actor, with a range that spans a Tony-nominated turn in “Oklahoma!” to the “Conjuring” and “Insidious” movies. The brothers Wilson (there’s a third, Mark) finally got to share the screen in “Big Stone Gap,” a character-driven dramedy, also featuring Ashley Judd and Whoopi Goldberg, about life in a Appalachian Virginia small town in the 1970s — which is in fact the very town the Wilsons would go to when visiting their grandparents.
Paul, I noticed you had a listing on the IMDb for a small part in “Angels in America,” which was Patrick’s big screen breakthrough.
Paul Wilson: That’s right. It’s funny because I think I was cut. I did shoot it, and that was a sweet thing. The incredible Mike Nichols allowed me to share some screen time with Patrick.
How did you wind up in this?
Paul: I volunteered to help in any capacity, not really thinking it would be a role of this breadth. [Adriana Trigiana, writer and director] had a conversation about me playing John Warner [for a scene where Elizabeth Taylor, played by Patrick Wilson’s wife Dagmara Dominczyk, comes to town].
Patrick Wilson: She said, “Oh no, I want him to be Lyle.” Then I felt bad that I didn’t really think of that. It was a much better role.
Paul: Yeah, thanks a lot. [Laughs]
Patrick: I just had no idea it was already cast.
This takes place in the town where your grandparents lived. It seems like something you’d pounce on soon as you heard it was being made.
Patrick: This is the most personal movie I’ve ever done. Our Wilson heritage is from there; our dad was born on that street, and our grandfather, and our great-grandfather. There’s a Wilson Road crossing a Wilson Bridge. We roll deep there. It’s the place we would spend summers while growing up. We knew we had to be a part of it in any capacity. All of our family was involved at some point.
Paul: We learned to fish there. We played golf there. We would hike in the mountains. Our father would take us into caves that were Civil War munitions dumps. We spent every summer capturing crawdads in the creek. To be able to stay in my grandparents’ house, that my father grew up in, that was built for my father, it was incredibly sweet. That place was our Disneyland growing up. That’s where we went for the summer. We didn’t travel around the country. We traveled back to Virginia.