Tag Archives: Pat Skipper

Michael Bay’s The Rock

Who loves Michael Bay’s The Rock? I think a better question is who doesn’t. It was one of my first introductions to the action genre as a kid and I sat there in Saturday morning disbelief at just what was possible in the realms of cinema. Alcatraz Island, nuclear warheads filled with horrific poison gas, Nicolas Cage in charismatic goofball mode, Sean Connery basically reprising his 007 role one last time, a rogues gallery of gnarly character actors all hamming it up to high heaven, a score from Hans Zimmer that soars and invoked both emotion and adrenaline, what’s there not to fall in love with.

The plot here is besides the point: angry rogue military general Ed Harris takes Alcatraz hostage, threatens to launch warheads across harbour into crowded San Fran. Chemistry guru Nic Cage, ex MI6 super-spy Sean Connery and a team of Navy Seals covertly lead a siege on the rock to stop him. Many guns are fired, a lot of shit blows up and endless one liners are uttered. That’s the nutshell version though, the actual experience is something blissful and perfectly pitched in terms of the recipe for a great action film. Connery is intense yet somehow laid back and steals the show as the pissed off, blacklisted agent who really doesn’t care about the threat towards the city, or at least pretends not to. Cage, whether strumming his guitar, banging his super hot Italian American wife (Vanessa Marcel) or referencing Elton John right before killing a bad guy, is comic dynamite and a source of desperate, scenery chewing energy that somehow works despite how ridiculous his performance is (it’s like the antithesis of his work in Con Air, the sister film to this). What I love about Harris’s villain here is that, unlike many huge budget action flicks, you actually care about this guy and what he wants, despite the extreme measures he’s gone to get them. He’s calm, resolute and sorrowful and not much about his performance suggests an antagonist except for the situation the character is written into and it’s an interesting, thoughtful choice for the film’s baddie. The real nasty characters are the mercenaries he hires to carry out his mission, who include the more subdued likes of David Morse and John C. McGinley, the less subdued Bokeem Woodbine and Gregory Sorlader and the positively psychotic Tony Todd as Captain Darrow, the last guy you’d want on either side of the moral fence as his seems to be absent. On the other side of the action we get John Spencer as a cranky FBI bigwig, legendary Michael Biehn as the Seal commando, always awesome William Forsythe as the one FBI agent with a brain in his head and cameos from Pat Skipper, Claire Forlani, Danny Nucci, Tom Towles, Jim Caviesel, Stanley Anderson, Raymond Cruz, Xander Berkeley, Philip Baker Hall and Stuart Wilson.

From the moment Harris’s team steals the rockets to the explosive sequence where Cage flags down the military in a sly Platoon reference, this thing fires with everything it’s got. Connery’s escape and car chase through the streets of San Fran goes on needlessly long and exists only for the purpose of an action sequence, making it all the more awesome. Harris and Biehn’s utterly badass stare down and frantic chicken fight over who will order a stand-down first always gets me. It’s such a well made action film that even the Bay haters sound like ignoramuses when they bash it. Roger Ebert, who has routinely torn Bay new assholes over the years in his reviews, loved it. Zimmer’s theme is the perfect symphony for fighter jets, commandos, yellow hummers’ (“You shtole my humvee!”), trolley cars, assault weapons and high powered rockets to thunder across the harbour in spectacular fashion. The Rock rocks.

-Nate Hill

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B Movie Glory: Femme Fatale

Femme Fatale is a gong show, and not in a good way. I’m not talking about the De Palma film of the same name, which is a gong show in a good way. This thing is a sad, no budget little tv flick from back in the day starring Colin Firth, who has seen better days than he has here. It’s a strange psycho sexual ‘mystery’ in which none of the plot points really make sense and each scenario gets a little more ridiculous than the last. Firth plays a fairly meek dude who’s recently married a mysterious girl (Lisa Zane) that he doesn’t know much about, and she turns out to be someone different entirely, leading him on a dull goose chase across the country to find out just who he tied the knot with. Zane is Billy Zane’s sister by the way, and speaking of him he’s on this too as Firth’s eccentric friend, which is a hoot because you get to hear him refer to his sister as a ‘diesel dyke.’ The central mystery involves several identities she takes up and more than a few multiple personalities brought by by unconventional therapy from a shady psychiatrist (the great Scott Wilson in a hammy extended cameo), but ultimately its hard to care about a story this loosely threaded, far fetched and just plain silly. Watch for some gem cameos though from the likes of Danny Trejo as a worldly tattoo artist, Catherine Coulson (the beloved Log Lady on Twin Peaks) as a nun who delivers some exposition and then peaces out and character actor Pat Skipper as a rowdy henchman who steals scenes like nobody’s business. Overall it’s a fairly useless piece of fluff though, painfully average and inconsequential.

-Nate Hill

My chat with veteran actor Pat Skipper

Greetings again! I just had the chance to interview veteran actor Pat Skipper, who has appeared in countless films including Erin Brockovich, Lethal Weapon 2, Demolition Man, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Seabiscuit, Ed Gein, Independence Day, Predator 2 and more. He’s also shown up in many a  TV Show, including Mad Men, ER, That 70’s Show, Charmed, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Bosch, The West Wing, Bones, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Medium, Justified, The Mentalist and an intense character arc on The X Files as Bill Scully. He’s been a force to reckon with in the industry for a long while, and it was a pleasure to speak with him. Enjoy!
Nate: How did you find your way into acting, was it something you always knew you wanted do? What was your background before that?

 

Pat: I was a total TV head when I was a kid. I loved Lost in Space. I loved Billy Mumy (Will Robinson). Then, I saw him in a Twilight Zone re-run and he scared me to death. That’s the first notion that I had that someone was “acting.” I was amazed. But I got into doing it myself in the way that most kids from the sticks do. I got a part in the high school play. I probably had six lines. I was an Irish cop, I think. I realized that actors were “my people.” I kept doing it and never stopped.

 

Nate: Tell us a bit about your book, ‘The Working Actor’. How was the process of writing, and coming up with it? I will also include a link here in the blog post so that anyone reading who is interested can take a look.

 

Pat: I had been coaching a friend of mine, a young woman–a girl really–on auditions. I began to look back over my career. I saw my younger self reflected back at me while I was working with her. I thought, “I wish I had me for a teacher when I was 21.” So I started taking notes. Six drafts and 2.5 years later, I have my book, The Working Actor.

 

Nate: You have an impressive, intense character arc on The X Files. Did you enjoy creating the character of Bill Scully, and how was working on the series for you?

 

Pat: I loved X-Files. I was a big fan of the series. I thought then (and still think) that Gillian Anderson is one of the best actors alive. Playing opposite her was so engaging. She’s a tremendous athlete. She made me better.

 

Nate: I saw a comment from Michael Connelly on the website for your book. Did you know him prior to being cast in Bosch, or did you meet as a result of that. He’s a wicked author, and you are an incredible actor, I feel like he should write something just for you. Did you enjoy working on Bosch?

 

I was very excited to get cast in Bosch. I had been aquainted with the Producer Eric Overmyer 30 years before (when we were both starting out in New York). Something happened in that audiiton room. I just fell apart emotionally. I got the part. I was over the moon to meet Mike Connelly as I had read every single one of his novels. I couldn’t wait to meet him. When I did, he reminded me that I had worked with him before in a pilot for a TV show that he had written in the 90s! I didn’t remember him at all. I loved working with Titus Welliver. The guy is the quintessential Working Actor. He’s worked his way all the way to the top. Titus wrote the foreword to my book. That said, playing Sam Delacroix was brutal. Such an awful, selfish, morally corrupt and lost person. It cost me a bit of my soul to play him.

 

Nate: thank you for sharing that, and it’s super exiting about Bosch, I hope to start it soon. Any hobbies, interests besides acting and writing?

 

Pat: I had 12-year-old twins. They keep me busy. I play very mediocre golf. I read A LOT. I love football season.

 

Nate: Working with Rob Zombie on Halloween- Did he pursue you for that role? He tends to specifically request actors, and cast his films, even down to the minutest role, with old familiar faces and impeccably picked talent. Did you enjoy your experience on that film? Working with Scout, Dee Wallace and everyone?

 

Pat: Rob Zombie is a very sweet guy, surprisingly. And he’s remarkably inventive. He creates a very fertile work environment. Dee, Scout and I loved each other. He helped us create a very credible little family. Then he covered me with gallons of blood. I went to audition. That’s how I get all my jobs. No one has ever requested me for shit.

 

Nate: In your website bio it says you initially had trouble finding jobs just out of school. Care to elaborate? Specifically the esoteric nature of preparing for a performance or audition, versus the practical, professional way to go about searching for the work. The art vs. the know how etc.

 

Pat: Everybody has trouble starting out. Everybody. I had no idea how to audition for jobs. I totally sucked. I came to a revelation. If I was going to work in this business, I was going to have to create my own work. Cutting to the chase, I produced a hit play starring the then 21-year-old (and unknown) actress, Marisa Tomei. It opened doors–for both of us. I have come to the conclusion that Acting is not an art form. Acting is a sport. Acting is taught as if it were some fancy, magical, mystical thing. I advocate in my book (and with the people that I coach) that we should attack our careers–and our work–with the dedication and tenacity of professional athletes. Take the magic out. Work our asses off. Have a repeatable process. Learn through repetition. Work out to stay sharp. Never settle. Never stop getting better. Expect the best out of ourselves. Deliver every time.

 

Nate: Your career is primarily acting, and now the book. Have you ever considered getting into other aspects of filmmaking such as script writing, producing or directing your own projects?

 

Pat: I act. I coach actors. I wrote a book. That’s it.

 

Nate: What are some of your favourite roles you’ve gotten to play?

 

Pat: Bosch, X-Files, Bones, Boston Legal, Halloween. A lot of my best stuff has been in other projects that no one ever watched. So it goes.

 

Nate: Besides Bosch, any other projects coming up, cinematic or otherwise that you are excited for and would like to mention?

 

Pat: I’m a Working Actor. Right now, that means I’m looking for work. I auditioned for some TV show today. I’m running my studio. I’m coaching other people’s auditions. The book comes out in a month. I’m as busy as hell making that happen. It’s exhausting. It’s also kind of scary. Mostly, though, it’s pretty cool.
Nate: It’s the coolest profession anyone could hope to a part of indeed. Best of luck, I’ll see you soon in Bosch, and will most definitely be getting ahold of your book. Thanks so much!