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Interview: Actress Sharni Vinson talks ‘Patrick: Evil Awakens’

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The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with actress Sharni Vinson to talk about her performance in the thriller, “Patrick: Evil Awakens,” which releases to VOD and limited theaters on March 14. Vinson is best known for her role in the dance sequel, “Step Up 3D,” and her breakthrough performance in 2013’s home invasion thriller, “You’re Next.”

A remake of the 1978 film, “Patrick: Evil Awakens” tells the story of a young nurse named Kathy Jacquard (Vinson), who begins her new job at an isolated psychiatric ward. While working there, she meets Patrick (Jackson Gallagher), a comatose patient who is the experiment of mad scientist and supervisor Doctor Roget (Charles Dance). Suddenly, Patrick starts to use telekinesis to communicate with Kathy and manipulate her every move – turning her life into an absolute nightmare.

Vinson discusses her role in the film; why she doesn’t like auditions; and why she would choose teleportation over telekinesis.

David Wangberg: I saw in another interview that you admitted to hating doing auditions.

Sharni Vinson: Correct.

DW: So, pretend I’m the director of “Patrick,” and you approach me and say you want a part in this film, but you don’t want to audition for it. How do you convince me that you are the right person to play Kathy?

SV: Well, in the back of the mind, I hope that you’ve possibly seen another [one] of my films where I believe that’s how you get an idea of what you’re going to see when someone has given you the final result, and this is what they look like on set; in costume; being shot correctly with proper actors; under lights; and this is the product. Whereas, with an audition, I feel like you walk into a very unnatural environment; you’re put in the most [demanding] role, where you’re supposed to be running up stairs, locking windows, and actually doing all this difficult action, and there’s no real way of portraying that amongst this room with a reader that’s sort of giving you a blank read. There’s no relaxing in there. It’s just very unnatural, and that’s why I don’t like auditions. Because it’s very different to what the performance you get on the day on a set. I even prefer a stealth tape, because I can then create the environment myself. But auditions give me anxiety, to be honest. [laughs]

DW: [laughs] Do you think that, as time progresses, you might become more comfortable with them, and you might not hate them as much as you do now?

SV: I don’t know, because I’ve been doing it for 10 years. You think I would be OK by now, right? [laughs]

I don’t know what that’s about, but it’s also this underlying kind of thing, where you walk in, and there are people in this room [and] you kind of step in that moment. You’re under a lot of pressure. You have to prove yourself, in that moment, to these people, and I think feeling like you have to prove yourself [is] not a great feeling. Whereas, when you’re on a set, you’ve already proved yourself, and you’re just being, and you’re naturally just letting everything unfold in the moment. There’s an expectation with auditions to whereas when you walk onto a set, it’s kind of like the expectation is now to just live up to what we know you can already do – not what can you do. It’s a different mentality. [laughs]

DW: In the film, Patrick doesn’t say a word, unless it’s through telekinesis and on the computer or a cell phone. When you were working with Jackson Gallagher, did he not talk to you or anyone else on the set during the filming, so he could capture that feeling of being mute the whole time?

SV: [laughs] If only. No, he didn’t. It was so funny. He was the best to work with, because he would have to lie there just completely in a coma, and void of emotion, and not blinking, and almost not breathing. He was just completely static. There were so many scenes where I had to get quite close to him, and have this intimate dialogue with him and kind of with myself. And he was a practical joker. He would do these pranks where he would just, all of a sudden, I would be talking to him and really loving and whatnot and he would just scare me. Every single time he did it, I was on the ground. I was just terrified. It was so funny; I did not expect it from this person who is not meant to be doing anything. It was a lot of fun, actually. He kept it light, and there were some interesting scenes in there. One in particular [was] where we used a cucumber to achieve a certain effect. [laughs]

And he just kept it really light; it was really fun.

DW: If you had the opportunity to use telekinesis, how would you use it?

SV: Oh, dear. I wish I could use teleportation instead. Maybe, I’d use it somehow to figure out how to teleport through electricity. I have no idea. But I don’t know if I, honest to God, want to get into the minds of other people, because I’m trying to figure out my own. If you had the power of telekinesis and you could get into the minds of other people and control their minds, that’s just a nightmare [when] you can’t even control your own. Imagine just how crazy that would feel to get into the mind of somebody else. I honestly don’t know how I’d use it. I’d probably try to get rid of it, to be honest, unless I can turn it into the power of teleportation.

DW: Kathy is the rookie nurse in this clinic, and she notices Doctor Roget doing things he’s not supposed to do. Without going into full detail, if you’re on the set of a film or a TV show, and you notice a veteran actor or even a director doing something he or she is not supposed to do, do you try to confront him or her about it, or do you keep to yourself about the situation?

SV: Well, doing something they’re not supposed to do in what terms?

DW: It doesn’t have to be this extreme, like it was in the film. It can be anything, really.

SV: On the set, I just feel like it’s such a team effort, and everybody has really come in to do their jobs, because that’s what they do. And who am I to interfere in what you know? I can’t go and tell a lighting guy that he’s not doing his job correctly, because I don’t know anything about lighting. [laughs]

I let each person do their own thing. If you’re talking about somebody endangering themselves on a set, if somebody was walking through a bunch of water, and there’s a bunch of electricity going around, I would say, “Be careful. It’s a bit wet there.” If that’s what you mean.

DW: Yeah, that answers the question. Your character, she’s trying to tell Doctor Roget, “Hey, you’re not supposed to do this. You’re going to kill him.” And so, I was kind of wondering if you…

SV: What is it Roget calls her? He calls her a “nosey, little b****” in the movie. And one of my favorite moments from Charles Dance’s mouth [was] when he did it back on the day, and then watching it in the film, because he gets real into it, and I love it. There’s an element of truth to that when I watch the movie. She is really meddling. He calls her a “meddling, little b****.” That’s right. And she’s meddling, and she is. She’s doing it for the greater good, but she’s putting herself in danger, and it’s not really her business anyway. I don’t know if Sharni is a person that would really get that involved. I’d probably just walk out and go, “You know what? This is nuts in here. Not for me.” [laughs]

DW: With “Patrick,” the original one and this one, there’s a 25-year gap between the two films. In 25 years, which one of your films could you see getting remade?

SV: Wow! Well, probably not “Step Up,” because there have already been five of them, so it’s like they’ve remade it five times already. Let me think. Well, someone might attempt to remake “You’re Next” in a sense of what it is and just because of the fact that it’s been a long time since that kind of [film] where the female is the protagonist, and is the one that becomes the victim who stands up and fights back and has everyone in the theater cheering for in a horror movie. It’s been done, but just not for a while. Maybe people will try to do that again and do the whole home invasion thing, where the girl fights back, and that would totally be a compliment to the fact that we broke through somewhere in that movie. So, maybe “You’re Next.”

DW: The thing with remakes, nowadays, is that they’re going to keep happening, even though people will still say, “They should stop remaking movies that have already been done.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, as long as they’re done right. With “Patrick,” for those who have seen the original, and aren’t sure about seeing this one, how do you convince them that this version works just as well as the original?

SV: People that have seen the original, I would tell them that I have also seen the original, and I can see why it was a success in its time. I think if you enjoyed the original, then you would enjoy this just as much, if not more, due to the fact that we’ve taken the elements from the film, and stayed true to the concept. We’ve even recycled actors, who were in the original, and they’re coming back and doing cameo parts in this. For the people who have seen the original, they will notice those things. I think [also] due to the fact that the subject was telekinesis in the 70s, and we haven’t really talked about that now. It’s such a subject that, with the advancement of technology, we’re able to take this movie and push it into a new era. I think people who enjoyed the first one will enjoy this one. And if you never saw the first movie, then this movie stands up on its own. You don’t have to have seen the original to know that it’s a remake. We’re using computers, iPhones, iPads, and all sorts of things that didn’t exist back then, which is only giving us more opportunity to work with the subject of telekinesis.

DW: With “You’re Next,” which was released last year, it took two years to finally get it out and into the public audience. “Patrick” hasn’t had that much of a delay; it’s only been eight months since its premiere in Melbourne. But was there ever a time where you thought this film might have had the same fate as “You’re Next,” where it takes forever for it to get out of festivals and into cinemas?

SV: I don’t know. “You’re Next” was a very unusual concept. I’ve never encountered that before, where you shoot a movie; it gets picked up at a festival; and then you’re promised a release the next year. And then companies merge, and they can’t do that, and then you’re on a two-year waiting list, and then it finally comes out. That was a really unusual, nerve-racking experience. I think, with “Patrick,” it was a little more solid in the beginning what their aims were, when it came to releasing the film in Australia and on an international level.

I think when the movie was actually bought by Phase 4 Films, and now is coming out in America, it was a wonderful thing and a bonus that I didn’t even see in the beginning as an option, because we were shooting an Australian movie and it was a remake, and I didn’t even realize they had the ambitions to take it out to the state. It’s interesting. I’m really glad that it happened, and I’m glad that it’s not another “You’re Next” situation, where we’ve had to wait years in between these roles and people must think that I haven’t been working, but these films have taken a while. So, yes, it’s interesting.

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Sharni Vinson for taking the time to talk about “Patrick: Evil Awakens.”

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