Patrick Wilson and Lin Shaye are no strangers to horror genre. While Wilson has dabbled in other genres like action (“Watchmen”, “The A-Team”) and thrillers (“Hard Candy”, “Lakeview Terrace”), he reunited with “Insidious” director James Wan to play paranormal investigator Ed Warren in “The Conjuring” this past summer. Compared with her co-star, Shaye is a veteran in the horror genre that including roles in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “2001 Maniacs” with Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.
“Insidious: Chapter 2,” picks off where the first film left off with Josh Lambert (Wilson) emerging from the Further with his son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). However, a haunted spirit from the Further followed them back to the real world and it threatens to destroy the Lambert family. I had the chance to speak with Wilson and Shaye when they were in town promoting the film as they talk about making this movie and working with Simpkins.
The trailers kind of suggested that the movie is like a regular horror movie, but thankfully, what it doesn’t suggest that it’s more of a mystery thriller with this prevalent, sinister undertone to it. Without spoiling anything, the second half delves into some really complex territories. Did you guys have an “Insidious” bible to help keep the logic of that universe together?
Lin Shaye: Great question.
Patrick Wilson: I just kept asking like, “Listen. We can make up our own rules…”
Shaye: “…but they got to be rules.”
Wilson: “When we bend them, at least tell me why we are bending them.” The actual plot of the movie is murder-mystery with a little bit of thriller in trying to figure out what happened or the event that happened. Yet, most of the movie is completely non-linear complete with flashbacks, time travel, the Further and much weirdness. We just had to be very clear about what… even when I am watching the movie, I’m like, “Where are we?”
Shaye: You have to really watch.
Wilson: I think that is part of the fun because you are making up your own rules, but even within that, we have to establish our own set of circumstances.
Shaye: He said it all (laughs). Next question?
Patrick, this is the third time you worked with Ty who has portrayed your character’s son in “Little Children,” “Insidious” and now, “Insidious: Chapter 2.” In working someone like Ty, was it easier to establish chemistry on the last movie after playing your son of your character in a different movie?
Wilson: Yeah. It’s no real secret. I know when he came in to audition for “Insidious,” that was a good name to name drop that he worked with before. He and his mom made these playing cards that had a scene. I always held him over my shoulders on the set of “Little Children.” There is a shot of me with Ty, who was three and a half, on my shoulders with a big jester hat. They made a set of playing cards because we would always play games in between takes. This is going to sound comedic and it is, but they say you should never work with kids and animal, but James Wan seem to do it in every movie apparently, but it is a very similar experience. It takes a long time to act with a camera and understand what you need it for and act like it’s not there because you are never really acting like the camera is not there. A good actor is always conscious of that.
Shaye: You always know that it is there.
Wilson: You want to know that it is there. With a child, they obviously don’t have that understanding so you are trying to trick them and play with them to where you try to get through the scene and they actually just relating. It tries to get down to two people communicating, which is very hard for any actor, especially with a child actor who is like, “Who are these holding these things over me?” Long story short, but the answer is yes that it helped that when you are on 22 or 23 day shoot and you have some very…not even emotional scenes, but we had to be connected. Who knows how a child is going to respond to some guy who says, “Hi. It’s nice to meet you. I’m your father. By the way, I have to save you from the Further…”
Shaye: “…and I’m going to make you cry” (laughs).
Wilson: “…and I have to save you from this red-faced demon.” It really helped because I’ve known him now for a long time. Even though it’s not like I talk to him a lot, but every time I see him, we got real shorthand, which really, really helps in these kinds of movies.
Shaye: Also, to add onto Ty’s profile, is that in the scenes I had with him, he was very professional. He had a very professional side. The scene in the first movie where I’m saying, “Leave this vessel” and I’m shaking him. I remember I got very protective of him because I had to throw him against this dresser and I wanted him to wear padding on his back. They said, “Don’t worry. He’ll be alright.” He didn’t want it and I made him put it on. I figured that I really wanted to throw him without worrying about it. I knew that he was protected so I didn’t have to withhold what was going on with me. Kids can be awful, but he was a real pro.
Patrick, I know you did a lot of theater in the past and I thought you were great in “The Phantom of the Opera.” Have you thought about doing another movie musical?
Anything in particular that you would like to do?
Wilson: No. It’s just been hard to find the right one. I did a workshop of “Into the Woods” with Rob Marshall, but I didn’t want to play prince at the age of 40. That really wasn’t right for me, even thought I think the movie is going to be great. I just have to find the right role that makes the most sense, but I would love to.
Did you any plans on doing Broadway shows?
Wilson: Actually, I am going to be doing something in the spring for a very short while. I won’t go into it, but I literally agreed to it like an hour ago. I am going to sing again in the spring for at little bit. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without doing a musical.
Shaye: There are so few actors who can do what he did. I can barely walk, let alone sing and dance (laughs).
Wilson: What’s weird is that you grow up doing that, you go to college for it, I studied it…for the first half of my career, that’s all I did except for two plays. It was really all I did and who I was. To sort of put of behind you and I always felt like, “You’ll never say that,” but it’s been eleven years and that sort makes me sad. It was the reason I stayed on the East Coast because I knew that I would never go to L.A. until my kids are out of high school and out of the house. It’s just not going to happen. It’s part of the reason I stayed because me and my wife love doing theater especially doing a Broadway musical where you got to sign on for a minimum including rehearsals for six months or so unless you are going to do some Off-Broadway thing. You then start to weigh your options and see if it is really worth it. When you’ve done musicals for a year, nine months, six months…hundreds of times you’ve done the same role. I have no desire to do that unless it’s really good so my bar is set really high for a musical. I have no desire to sit in a show just to do it for the sake of doing it. Ultimately, you want to do things to prove things to yourself and not to anyone else. It doesn’t matter. It is like, “Do you have that drive?” and the answer is “No. Not to sit in a role if it’s not great especially if you are doing this night after night after night, eight show a week.” I never missed a show for a voice problem or anything like that because I hate to miss shows. It’s also the complete opposite of any other schedule including a movie schedule. You do a Broadway schedule, you’re just doing…
Shaye: Rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal.
Wilson: …then when you are at the show, especially when you have little kids. My wife did a play last fall and she had to put my kids to bed one night a week. That’s hard when you have little kids and that’s just not me anymore.
Shaye: You’re priorities change. I did theater in New York for 14 years before I ever thought about doing a film. It just never occurred to me. Now, I’m in love with filmmaking. With the process and the detective work that you do to create a character, it’s so much different then what you think. No matter how much I plan the overall arc of the character, you get there day one on the film and you shooting certain scenes first and it goes completely different to anything you ever thought of and then it’s done. Lifestyle wise, it’s probably a good thing for me to have to let it all go and do what’s there. What’s also interesting is that all the work you’ve done still informs the moment so you can never cop out of the details of creating the role. It’s a fabulous puzzle and I just love it. Moviemaking is for me and I want to you back on stage again. Whatever it is, I’m coming.