Real girls in their own place.
Not too crazy and just a pinch of naughty...
Muse, Mimic, Martial Artist - Meet The Many Faces of Patrick Fugit
Word By Falene Nurse
Pictures by Patrick Fugit
Patrick Fugit is the type of guy that you feel you have known most of his life. Maybe that’s because in a strange way, we have. We watched him come of age (and get ceremoniously deflowered) right before our eyes. He was only 16 when he landed the coveted lead in the Bildungsroman masterpiece "Almost Famous." Besides being considered by most as Cameron Crowe’s alter ego, he also represented all of our innocence and naivety essentially being lost—but in a good way. The pivotal moments when you start discovering where exactly you fit into the world, we witnessed then on his face. Or when you first learn your biggest hero, actually is a flawed human being capable of disappointing you, we could see in his nuanced expressions. We’ve seen “coming-of-age stories” a thousand times before, but rarely is it captured so perfectly on film. There are few modern roles that you can honestly say “no one else could have played that part,” Patrick Fugit as William Miller is definitely one of them.
It’s hard to believe the baby-faced actor is almost 30 now. Since his debut he’s gained numerous high praises and critical acclaim for roles in “Saved,” “White Oleander” and HBO’s “Cinema Verite.” Accolades for being both indie darling and crowd pleaser, Fugit’s been the romantic dead in “Wristcutters: A Love Story”, a ball-busted junkie in “Spun,” a Snake Boy in “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” and most recently, a monkey carrying hippy zookeeper in “We Bought A Zoo.” He takes unconventional roles and makes them endearing, constantly bringing a certain sensitivity and subtlety to characters that are really rather complicated. Whether he’s falling for a troubled girl, saving wildlife or pioneering reality TV, he has the innate ability to convince the audience (and usually his co-stars too) everything is going to be all right—eventually. God help us all the day he’s cast as the surprise serial killer, though come to think of it he would be a good match for another long lost relative of "Dexter." So I had a little chat about cleft chins, what’s next, listen to his impression of Morgan Freeman, and whether he might be Cameron Crowe’s secret muse.
Falene: Pronounce your last name for me.
Patrick: Fue Git. With a hard g.
Falene: Do you know what it means?
It means fleeting in Latin, but it’s spelled differently. In junior high they pronounced it FUGGIT.
Falene: Tell me a secret you’ve never revealed?
Patrick: I’m thinking of one, but can I say it? (pausing to contemplate) I wanna tell you a good one, alright, alright, I have one. My secret, so my mom use to have a ballet school, and we all took ballet.
Falene: Well there’s the secret right there.
Patrick: No, that’s not the secret. All my friends already knew that, everyone knows that now I think. What people don’t know is I had a key to the ballet school and I lost my virginity in my mom’s ballet school. After hours. There you go.
Falene: OMG!! Was it to a ballerina?
Patrick: Erm no, it was my girlfriend. I think I was 17.
(OK I was imagining a 12 year old sneaking around for a minute there, meeting with an older, sexually experienced ballerina. Akin to some demented “Black Swan” meets “Billy Elliot” scenario).
Falene: So you’ve been in 2 films that might just have the best soundtracks’ of all time, which is your favorite?
Patrick: Wow, damn. Let me think. "Almost Famous" had a pretty killer soundtrack, but…
That Jonsi, that’s some emotional stuff. Even though I can barely understand anything he sings.
I know right, I might have to go with “We Bought A Zoo” it was so… he has this way about him, you know.
You know what, I do!
What is the strangest audition you have ever been on?
For "Generation Kill." Very early on in the audition process, I’m really excited about the project and I love HBO. They haven’t narrowed down any of the parts. So they had me stick around for some improv. I’m thinking, ok cool, improv. The most random group of 4 people, put together pretending to be in a Humvee. Yet we’re supposedly this highly trained, tight-knit, special forces unit. None of us has any kind of a reference, we are just a bunch of fucking actors from LA right. Then they shout "OK you are in Bagdad, what are you talking about?" It suddenly became a Broadway audition! Some guys just started shouting—really loud. I found myself watching it all play out, very badly. Then we were "attacked" and everyone starts freaking out, screaming, crying, then there was this huge guy, like a meaner version of Michael C. Duncan who gets stuck as the designated driver. For some reason his arms are held really high above his head (not sure why), to drive this imaginary steering wheel. Then he cranks the shit out of the stick shift and starts to bounce. The panic continues, now keep in mind we are meant to be RECON marines, men who remain cool under pressure and duress. Then the racial epithets about the imaginary attackers start, really gnarly stuff. The whole thing was pretty bad. I’ve done some crazy ones, but that one comes to mind for sure.
You’ve just described my nightmare, playing make believe with very large, strange men, that I don’t know. I don’t think I could do that on a regular basis to make a living, not knowing what they are going to have you do in an audition. It sounds unnerving.
You know what? I really love what I do. I would rather be acting than doing anything else in the world and I’ve been involved with some really amazing projects and people. It definitely makes me happy and I’m extremely grateful for that, BUT there are times when things get really surreal and I get so frustrated. And I talk to my cousin back in Utah and he has his landscaping business in Moab, works outside all day in nature and then goes home and relaxes. Or they all go dirt bike riding, that sounds pretty sweet too.
Most bizarre experience in LA to date, or was that audition it?
Most bizarre, well my girlfriend lives right on the Venice boardwalk.
OK, ‘nuff said.
Anytime I go down there, it’s always quite a strange experience. There’s this dude, if you live out there you will have seen this guy. He dresses in Cheetah print loin cloths and other garb, he has a really thick African accent and carries a really long pole. He makes proclamations to passers by, sometimes when you least expect it. He will just shout crazy stuff out, like "I’m pregnant!!!" and then poke you with his pole.
When I first came to LA I use to go down there a lot, because I liked the Sunday drum circle. Then I went sober and thought "ew."
That’s so true dude lol.
Who’s career do you admire, an
older seasoned pro—who would it be? They have to be a lot older than you.
Jeff Bridges. He’s the coolest man in the world. He’s “The Dude.” He’s a really amazing person and I know people always say that if they’ve worked with someone, but I’ve really never met such a nice human being before. So successful, yet still a cool, happy guy. He’s supportive, but not overly so. He’s just real, but also happens to be this genius actor, amazing photographer, fantastic musician and "The Dude." He gets to do it all, insane summer blockbusters, then iconic cult roles.
He’s got a good life, Daniel Day Lewis too. He seems to have everything figured out.
That would be my other choice.
Doesn’t he run off to Florence and cobble shoes in his spare time? Or is that an urban myth?
I’d heard something about him being a cobbler. When he’s not being one of the most legitimate, admired actors in the world that is.
I think people think he’s a bit mental, but I think he’s smarter than the rest of us. I think he’s on to something.
He’s got it all figured out, man.
And of course he was in "My Beautiful Launderette," one of my most faves ever.
That’s so weird you said that, I just started watching that the other day. For the first time.
I’m older than you, so that’s an old school British classic back home.
I’ve been on a Daniel Day Lewis DVD kick, there are so many of them. I was watching “The Boxer” too.
Can you do any impressions, Christopher Walken maybe?
I can do some people, I can do a little bit of "The Dude."
(His voice changes for a moment, it slows down completely, becoming muffled—then I hear him. “The Dude” is on the line! All shambled nonchalance and laid back savoir-faire… man).
I actually enjoy mimicking people, their mannerisms, their voices. Sometimes when I wake up really early and my voice is deeper, I can do Morgan Freeman.
Do Morgan Freeman! Do Morgan Freeman. Leave a vm as Morgan Freeman saying that you are my dad. That’s the plan, OK?
Is that right, OK, I’m going to try and do his voice. Let’s see.
What can I say, “to this day”… no I can’t do it! "To this day I have no idea what the sisters did to Andy in Shawshank, I don’t think I wanna know…"
(It’s quite uncanny how he is able to do these on command, without any warning).
That’s a good one, right you are my new voice messaging system!!
My girlfriend gets me to do the Morgan Freeman voice a lot. She gets me to call her on the phone as Morgan. She likes Morgan.
I love pastry and sweets. My brother and sister, they say I have "the fat sister" mentality. Where you have those moments that you want to eat the extra piece of cake, but feel too guilty.
Fat sister syndrome. FSS.
Like I went to get all the healthy foods and organic foods, and then I walk through the donuts and pastries and just sniff. Smell everything, moan to myself in ecstasy and then check out. If I spend more than 30 sec in the donut section I’ll buy a deep fried bear claw. So I indulge in the aroma and then get the fuck out.
What do you think was the grossest or most disturbing scene in "Spun?"
Everything is pretty gross in that movie. The pooping in the toilet, an animated Jason Schwartzman diving into a vagina. Like it’s a pool! The shooting up, some of the sex scenes were kinda gross because people’s teeth are rotting, they are dirty, unbathed and have severe acne. I get shot in the balls too.
Did you realize the lingering affect that "Almost Famous" was going to have on people.
It’s crazy, when I auditioned as a teenager, I thought that’s the one I need to get. I was fresh out of Utah literally, which genuinely paralleled the character’s experience. While we were shooting, it felt a little mystical, it felt like a different time. Really organic and awesome, but I had no idea people would respond that way. I didn’t realize how epic it all was, because I had never done anything of that scale before.
Are you possibly Cameron Crowe’s muse? It seems like that to audiences.
Wow, I don’t know, you would probably have to ask him. That’s a really nice idea. I do feel a specialness around him, when I work with him. All directors give off all kinds of energies, but there is something vastly different about Cameron. It’s really an amazing experience just auditioning with him. He has this way of drawing the best out of you, his presence, his joy for what he does, it’s contagious. He’s kind of in this creative space that is unattainable by most people. The first time I had physically seen him again in 6 years, was with my manager Gail. Just the three of us were together in a room again for "We Bought A Zoo." Sort of this cozy feeling came back.
Have you looked through the MIMP site yet?
Yes I read the interviews, but I also saw the photo shoots. Should I look more thoroughly?
They are all very beautiful, but… so is my girlfriend.
(Ah Good man, well done).
If you could play any villain in the history of cinema, who would you be?
Shit lol. Let’s see, maybe Clare Quilty in Lolita.
You are not old, or creepy enough yet.
Ha ha, oh you don’t know. I can be very creepy without even trying, it can be alarming. I do find creepy people really fascinating.
Tell me how long you have skateboarded?
Since I was 14, but I don’t so much anymore because it eventually destroys your body and joints. I’m obviously physically bigger than I was when I started, I’m like 6 ft 1 and weigh more. So it got to the point where my knees and ankles were getting messed up. I loved it, but I can’t do it as much. So I ride motorbikes and do martial arts mostly these days.
Not sure that will keep your ankles and knees any safer there, fella.
In "Thanks For Sharing" are you one of the sex addicts?
No, Tim Robbins is an older sex addict, 20 something years in recovery and I play his son. Who is a drug and alcohol abuser. It shows people at varying stages of recovery. That’s going to Toronto for the film festival.
Do you live here in LA and do you like it?
I tell you what I like, the acting here and the weather. Not the driving around part. I love it when I’m working and busy. I just moved more into the canyons area recently. I’m a mountain boy, so I’m excited about that.
Do you have any special skills that no one knows about? Secret mathematician, fantastic sketch artist, magician?
A lot of people don’t think it when they look at me, but I’m really into martial arts. I’m pretty good with a knife now. It’s Filipino Kali, it’s weapons fighting with knives, rags, rods and swords. I study and train with Dan Inosanto, he has a school out here.