Written by: Julia Siegel
The third day of the Montclair Film Festival (MFF) was my busiest, and most rewarding, day so far. Booked from early afternoon through the night, I covered two events and one film. The first event of the day was The Conversation Series featuring actor Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring, Fargo) and moderated by New York Times media critic Neil Genzlinger.
Prior to the conversation, I attended the red carpet session, which featured Wilson, actress Margo Martindale (who did the previous conversation), and festival Executive Director Tom Hall. After a quick photo session for the press, I was lucky enough to be the first member of the press to interview Wilson. The first things that stuck out to me about Wilson were his great smile and wonderful personality. He was genuinely happy to be attending the festival and talking to me, which was a boost to my confidence. Wilson has the guy-next-door type of personality, is very personable, and would be a great person to hang out with.
I had enough time with him to ask three questions, which he gave elaborate answers on. Wilson and his family live in Montclair, so I asked him, “As a Montclair resident, what does this festival mean to the community of Montclair?” He first answered that the festival started around the time his family moved to Montclair. “I feel like each year this goes on, I feel like is another year I’ve lived in Montclair,” Wilson continued to say. He went on to say that the festival is huge and that the community of Montclair greatly supports the arts, so the success of the festival thus far doesn’t surprise him. He thinks that “it’s nice to see that excitement” in the community.
Wilson then elaborated on the festival’s growth, “The amount of growth this festival has had in five years is unlike anything I’ve seen. And that comes not only from all the people that are in the industry that live here, but from the town that supports it. They’re really what make it up.” Wilson was very vocal in expressing his happiness with the support Montclair residents have for their festival. “It really takes a town to welcome them [directors, producers, and actors] in and support it, and that’s what this town has done just beautifully,” Wilson said.
He also likes how the MFF has a “much different feel than Tribeca.” Wilson added, “We’re close enough to New York to benefit from all it has to offer, but far enough away to have our own voice here.” He thinks that the MFF will have great success and will continue to grow. The second question I asked Wilson also regarded the MFF: “Do you have any films coming up at the festival that you are looking forward to seeing?” Wilson is looking forward to seeing many films in the upcoming week, but didn’t name any in particular. He has been very busy lately with press tours, so he didn’t see any films prior to our interview. He mentioned that his wife, actress Dagmara Dominczyk, is one of the jurors for the Narrative Feature Competition, so he hopes to catch a number of films with her.
The final question I had for Wilson focused on his upcoming sequel, The Conjuring 2. I asked, “What can we expect from The Conjuring 2 as opposed to the first one? Any big differences or anything you can tell us about it?” He started off by saying that the sequel takes the characters to a case in England. Wilson exclaimed his love for the first film and is even more excited for the second. “When the first one tested [with test audiences] in Los Angeles, [it] tested extraordinarily high for a horror movie, which usually test okay for a certain demographic. It tested through the roof, and this one has tested better. So, that’s all I need to say,” Wilson hinted with a smirk. This should make fans of the horror franchise even more excited for the film.
Wilson also told me that The Conjuring 2 gets deeper with the character’s relationships: “There’s a lot more with my relationship with Vera [Farmiga], between Ed and Lorraine, and of course with the family we are with. So, dare I say, there’s a little more romance and a little more heart. You don’t want to come back and tell the same jokes and do the same scares, so we’ve pushed everything.” With that, my short interview concluded, and Wilson was kind enough to take a picture with me.
Roughly ten minutes later, the event started with Hall introducing Genzlinger and Wilson. The two had a great connection that showed immediately. They bantered for a little over an hour about Fargo, Wilson’s Broadway career, and Wilson’s upcoming films. The conversation started with a long discussion about FX’s fan and critic favorite show, Fargo, which Wilson starred during its recently concluded second season. Genzlinger discussed how great and refreshing Fargo is to watch, and he called it one of the best TV shows. Wilson talked about how much fun it was to shoot the season. He was initially happy to only be committed to one season, as he only had to spend four months in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to film.
Wilson joked about the funny accents that everyone uses on the show and how it got confusing at times. The show takes place in South Dakota and Minnesota, which is a similar accent to the filming location of Canada. However, the cast would have to try to not confuse their northern American accents with the Canadian ones they heard on set all day. Wilson recalled the difficulty at first, and even gave a demonstration on the differences between the Canadian and Minnesota accents.
When asked if he would do another season of Fargo, Wilson said that he would love to, but isn’t counting on it. The third season is supposedly taking place several years in the future, which means many of this season’s cast will not be reprising their roles. However, Wilson is open to having a guest appearance and potentially being a main character again in a later season. He jokingly said that he doesn’t want to ask the show’s creator Noah Hawley if his character will be back because he doesn’t want to get himself killed off.
After Fargo, the pair discussed Wilson’s start to fame with his Broadway career. Wilson has been nominated for two Tony awards for his leading performances in Oklahoma and The Full Monty. Wilson says that he loves musical theater and plays. He has not starred in a production since January 2009, but he did say he is currently looking into some potential roles. Wilson’s passion for theater is immense, which is where he got his start.
Genzlinger then asked Wilson some questions on his two upcoming films, The Conjuring 2 and The Founder, which co-stars Michael Keaton. The Founder is about the founder of McDonald’s, who Keaton is playing. Wilson said that he was very excited to share a few scenes with Keaton because Keaton was Wilson’s inspiration to become an actor. Wilson said it was a great moment for him to act with his personal hero.
The discussion then turned to a Q&A session with the audience. Wilson answered questions for a lot longer than I expected. Audience questions ranged from Fargo, to Broadway, to acting tips, to other films Wilson has been in. Interestingly, Wilson told one audience member that he doesn’t usually like horror films, but was really intrigued with the concepts of Insidious and The Conjuring. When the event ended, Wilson made himself available to fans to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk to them. This showed me a lot about his character and how great of a person he is. I really enjoyed the event and everything that Wilson had to say. It was a great way to kick off the day! The Conjuring 2 hits theaters on June 10. The Founder roles into theaters on August 5.