Peta Sergeant Talks Patrick’s Chills and Tension, Working with GoT’s Charles Dance, Joining The Originals, and More
Peta Sergeant joins “The Originals” tomorrow night, but maybe you already caught her over the weekend in her saucy nurse’s uniform in the remake of 1978’s Aussie cult classic Patrick.
It’s just now available on VOD (unleashed on Friday the 14th), and I do highly recommend it. I never did see the original – but I love the whole idea of a supposedly comatose patient (the titular Patrick, played by Jackson Gallagher) who’s actually sentient… and maybe even evil.
Deftly directed by Mark Hartley (who previously did the well-received doc on Australian horror films Not Quite Hollywood), Patrick (review here) has a great old-school dread to it I just know everyone will want to see (and here’s hoping everyone will want to read this interview with the delightful Ms. Sergeant as well)!
For you “Originals” fans, on Page 2 Peta gives her take on new character Francesca, a beautiful woman from a powerful New Orleans family who approaches Elijah with an intriguing offer of support.
Dread Central: I haven’t seen the original Patrick so I was curious to know if you had seen it before you took this on.
Peta Sergeant: I didn’t before I took it on, but when I was cast, of course, I had to go find it and see what it was all about. And it was fun. It was a fun movie and definitely a product of its time. I think Mark’s done an amazing job. I think he has done a lot more than just remake the original film. He kind of made a whole new film.
The original Patrick is much a product of that 70s era filmmaking, and it’s definitely a product of the times it was made. It’s very Goth in cinema and the hospital setting and has florescent lighting. It’s a product of its time, and Mark has really taken all of its ideas and some of the images from the original film and translated them into this amazing Gothic thriller. He actually has translated the genre as much as the film.
DC: I have to say, I was really impressed when I saw his remake in the context of how beautiful it is. It’s very Gothic with the lighting and the camera angles.
PS: And it’s very chilling too, you know. I think that is something that he struck a balance between – capturing some of the high tension that comes out of that generation of horror films in the past, kind of B-movie. He has kind of enhanced it. He has kept the best parts of that and the worst parts were discarded, and he just reset it in this amazing kind of very chilling atmosphere.
So I think he has done a great job of balancing out the sort of thriller chiller parts of the movie that don’t exist in the original Patrick. And I think that is something he has done really cleverly, which is what people want. And I think he managed with the production design and what he could with Robbie Perkins and Gary Richards, our DP/Cinematographer; they just created something that is so beautiful to look at and thought of as art house. They really created something brand new.
DC: Mark’s documentary Not Quite Hollywood made a pretty big splash about the Ozploitation genre and all those films of the 70’s and how they were influenced by lesser-known Australian auteurs. So I know that he is already an accomplished filmmaker, but this is his first narrative film… what made you decide you wanted to sign up for this?
PS: I believe Mark had become familiar with my work through another film I had just done a year before with Justin Dix called Crawlspace. Justin and Mark were friends and knew each other in long track in Melbourne and from both being huge fans of genre fiction. He contacted me, and we Skyped a conversation. And he really conveyed what he wanted to do with the new film, and a lot of that was in the script as well. You could almost hear the music. But it was very heightened, and I really loved the character. She really drew me in from the beginning. I had a lot of questions about her, but the opportunity to work with Charlie Dance and Rachel Griffiths is something you don’t really say ‘no’ to.
I was one of those people that started watching “Game of Thrones” in its third season and was like, ‘This is too much for me.’ But I am a big fan at that point – it was an around Season Two kind of point – and that is a big opportunity for any actor.
DC: So what was Charles Dance like, reality vs. expectation?
PS: Ah, he was amazing! He was fantastic. He’s just so delightful. He was just everything you expect a fabulous English gentleman to be. He was absolutely delightful and charming and a bit naughty. He is just a very generous type of guy. I think that was the thing that took me most by surprise. You are just never sure if someone is going to hang out in their dressing room or what they are going to be like, and that’s all fair enough when people are working to be focused and stuff, and there is nothing wrong with that. He was just so much fun and extremely generous, myself and the other actors included, and yes, just a really cool guy to hang out with.
DC: You also hang out with a guy that is so cool and laid back that he is in a coma in this movie! So what was it like to work with Jackson Gallagher? Was that really him lying there?
PS: Yes, there was no double or latex body; it was all Jackson. No dummy body there, ever. He is awesome, but he has this… Actually when I saw the film, when it premiered in Melbourne, I was so delighted to see [something] I didn’t know if they were going to keep in the edit, but they [did]… we all burst out laughing.
I don’t know if you recall it, but there is a scene when we are changing the bed clothes and Patrick is lying in the bed. I am quite rough with him, you know. We just kept doing it, and Mark was like, ‘Just be rougher, rougher, rougher,’ and Jackson… I actually never worked horror movies cause I am scared so easily. They are a lot of fun to make, but I just can’t watch them. I am so jumpy. And Mark, he said to me, ‘I now know why you keep getting cast in these movies; it’s because you have the most epic scream. You just have a scream made for horror pictures. That is one hell of a set of pipes you got on there.’ And when Jackson found that out, he just made it his mission to scare me whenever possible.
So we were shooting that scene, and they would call ‘Cut,’ and poor Jackson just had to lie there hooked up to these bits and had the art department unhook and hook it up. It was just too much. You know when moving the camera it’s going to be ten minutes, and Johnny and Peter, you can step aside; Jackson, sorry, you have to lie there. And he just made it his mission to just scare me, which he did very successfully many times that day. And so as a little payback when the cameras were rolling, you might think that’s funny when the cameras aren’t rolling, but wait, I am going to get you when the cameras are rolling. And so as kind of a little payback, I kind of made it my mission to scare him, which he never did. He never even blinked; it was amazing.
DC: You mentioned that you have been cast in some other horror things. I noticed that you have “The Originals” now. What’s the story on that?
PS: It’s actually a spinoff from “The Vampire Diaries”… the same creator and producer. It’s werewolves, witches, vampires; and these characters are the Originals, which are vampires that cannot die. They have other powers as well. [One of] the Originals [is] a… hybrid. You know… mixed blood in the lineage… So they have all of the supernatural powers in them. They can’t die, they are completely immortal, not susceptible to the same things other vampires are, so they live for like thousands and thousands of years. And it’s surrounded around the drama [of] everyone knows that family is tough, but what happens when you have to live with your family for thousands of years? (laughter)
So it’s kind of defining the different supernatural elements but also the infighting and betrayal within the Original family. I come in, and when I enter the scene, there are all these different factions and elements all living and plotting…
When I enter… I kind of find my way in and manage to become the person that is around and make myself a kind of integral part of negotiations. Each faction is represented by someone. The werewolve by somebody and the witches and the Originals. So I kind of come in and become the central leader of the human faction. I think it will be fun; as much as everybody loves the supernatural, I think people will love to go, ‘Oh great, there is a human who is going to be in the faction, too.’ It’s like the humans don’t have any power, they don’t have anything going for them, so I kind of come in and go, ‘Yes, we do.’ Which is fun.
When a young nurse begins work at an isolated psychiatric ward, she quickly becomes fascinated with Patrick, a brain dead patient who is the subject of a mad scientist’s cruel and unusual experiments. What starts as an innocent fascination quickly takes a sinister turn as Patrick begins to use his psychic powers to manipulate her every move and send her life into a terrifying spiral out of control.
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