It was the last Saturday of Summer in Danbury, CT, and I was in town for the, albeit low-budget, CT Horror Fest. Greeting faces like Tom Atkins (Halloween III: Season Of The Witch), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog) and Dick Warlock (Halloween II, Halloween III), [in the morgue cold venue used normally for a hockey rink] I also got the honor of meeting the gracious, talented and humble, Tom Fitzpatrick a.k.a “The Bride In Black”….. in full costume!!
Tom Fitzpatrick is know for starring in the Insidious’ franchise as well his part in a number of other projects such as Rizzolli and Isles, Ray Donovan, iCarly and the post production genre relevant flick “I AM FEAR“. After posing for a strew of photos with me and my plus one, Fitzpatrick then agreed to have the below interview with me; Discussing everything from Lin Shaye, James Wan, Nickelodeon and Insidious: The Last Key, CHECK it out!
Tom Holland’s Terror Time: So you starred as “The Bride In Black”, tell me, what was that like? Or a better question might be, how did you approach the role? Were you instructed heavily or did you just bring to the role what you felt was necessary?
Tom Fitzpatrick: When I read for, and booked, the role, I had no idea what “Insidious” was, or what the plot was. Sorry to disillusion you. I read for the role with a wonderful two-person scene the casting director provided. I remember that the role I read for was “Phillip”, but I can’t remember the name of the female character. It was beautifully written and very poignant and touching. Lovely writing. It was an exchange set in an elevator. They thanked me when I finished and that was that.
2 weeks later, I got a call from my manager: “Sweetie, you booked that Insidious thing!” I, frankly, had forgotten I had read for any project called, “Insidious”, that’s how out of any kind of loop I was. She then told me it would be 2 or 3 days [of] work, so then I perked up and paid attention. That’s a big gig in my simple universe. After the call from my manager, I may have gotten a call from Wardrobe, which is standard practice, asking for my sizes. “Should I bring shoes”, I may have asked. “Oh, don’t worry”, I think they said, ” you’re just gonna be wearing pajamas.”
A few days later, I was called to the set. I don’t remember ever getting a full script, just the pages involving my character–also standard practice if you’re not playing a large role. We were to shoot two scenes that first day–one in a hospital room and another in an elevator in the hospital–and, oh, boy! there was that nice dialogue scene I had read for! It was set in the elevator. Yay! We wound up never filming the dialogue. My character was totally silent while nurse babbled uncomfortably on. I was disappointed at first, but, seeing the sequence, Parker Crane’s weird, spectral, silence is much more effective than any dialogue could have been.
[On the subject of preparing or being instructed heavily] If you don’t have a large role, one with dialogue and a number of scenes going through the move, AND [if] you’ve never been given a full script, you just turn up at your call-time, on-set, on the day, you hit your marks, and you do as you’re directed. You think on your feet and try to piece together how what you’re being asked to do, might fit into the overall story and you try to give the folks what you perceive they want. At least, that’s what I do and, I imagine it’s what 9/10ths of the every-day players in Hollywood do. It’s not rocket science. Whoever is in charge will direct you and modulate what you give them, and if they don’t say anything, you’re either giving them exactly what they want and they’re grateful to the casting director, or you suck so bad you’re hopeless and they’re figuring how they can cut around you so the day wouldn’t be a total loss. So that is the simple manner in which I approached the role. I was never instructed heavily, just tweaked, which I took to mean I was giving them whatever they wanted and that made me feel good. Everyone in the set was kind, welcoming and gracious, so I was glad I seemed to have given them what they wanted. It was a totally fun experience, being on set that day, and that’s always my criterion. I like the work to be fun.
THT: What was it like to work with James Wan? Would you work with him again if you had too?
TF: I maybe spent an hour in James Wan’s presence on the first day I worked. I was a tad nervous, so I don’t remember much about our meeting. He was small, thin and, it seemed, shy. He may have said, “Hi, I’m James” and shook my hand but I’m not sure. Then he proceeded to direct me–no small talk, which I appreciated. I don’t like small talk and, apparently, neither does James. I was to lie flat on the bed, comatose, and, when young Josh got to the bedside table and commenced to examine the pill bottles there, I was to sit bolt upright and scream and grab him. A couple of medics would grab me and pull me off Josh. We rehearsed it a number of times, fine-tuning the timing of everything. Then, James stepped back with the camera crew and lined up his shot. I remember thinking the camera was quite far away. We shot a few takes–I can’t remember how many–and then James quietly faded away. Gone. I was told he was gone for the day because he had to go get a medical exam and whatever shots are needed if you’re going abroad someplace, because he would be leaving the country in a few days to direct Fast And Furious 7 overseas. We shot a few more takes after he departed with the A.D. directing.
That’s the only contact I ever had with James. I’ve never crossed paths with him at any of the Insidious-related events I’ve subsequently attended. All the succeeding scenes involving my character–the elevator scene, the putting on the makeup and drag scene, a scene where I strangle the adult Josh–were all directed by that same A.D., who was a great guy. Dunno his name, but the IMDB would have it (it’s Jason Garner, I looked it up). Super-nice guy.
[On the subject of ever working with James Wan again] Of course. I would LOVE to work with James again! He’s a great, very skilled artist. I hope it happens. I don’t have a lot of hope that it will, but ya nevah know….
THT: What’s it like working with Lin Shaye? I mean she, like yourself, of course, are horror icons!
TF: Lin was gracious, no nonsense, a total pro, as you might expect. Our introduction to each other was the big strangulation scene where I have the one line of dialogue I’ve ever uttered in two installments of the franchise: “this is how you die”. We had to rehearse it a lot, for positioning, for timing, and for camera-coverage. This made both Lin and me increasingly nervous as rehearsal after rehearsal and take after take went on. Lin was afraid of accidentally being strangled, naturally, and I was afraid of that, too. (Can you imagine?! How embarrassing! How mortifying would that be?!) Fortunately, nothing like that happened, and we were both unfailingly gracious throughout, but it was a pressured hour or so and I think we were both relieved when the director said, “moving on”.
[After] I was wrapped for the day, but I hung out on-set to watch Lin film her next scene–the long one with lots of dialogue, set in that spooky hotel room in The Further with her deceased “husband” whom she ultimately spots as a demon and destroys. I watched her shoot at least 6 takes or more of that scene and she delivered every time. It was wonderful to watch a seasoned pro in action.
THT: Would you ever want to work with Ms. Shaye again?
TF: I felt very privileged to have worked with her, and of course I would love the opportunity to do it again…. She’s so good and I could learn so much from working with her, especially on material that gave us more to work with. Our time together in “Insidious” was actually very brief. 2 scenes, almost no dialogue, we were only on-set together maybe a total of 3 hours. It’d be great to be together for a longer project sometime. Hope it happens!
THT: What are your thoughts about the newest chapter in the Insidious franchise, Insidious: The Last Key?
TF: I know no more about the new “Insidious” than you do. I’ve seen that brief internet trailer which I think is very effective, and Lin mentioned once to me on a FB PM that she thought the script was very good–the equal of all the preceding ones–so that’s exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing it just like you!
At this point in my interview with Tom you’ll see what I mean when I said the actor was just so humble with me, as he downplays his star status.
THT: So, other than horror, you starred in a lot of other film AND TV. You starred in series like Ray Donovan, Rizzoli and Isles and Nickelodeon hits like The Haunted Hathaways and iCarly. Why don’t you tell me what that was like?
TF: All those projects you listed off where you erroneously claim I “starred”, I was, of course, just support, and, even though I did my best to be fabulous in them all, some of them were a pain in the neck and, while I’m grateful to have the credit, more often than not I was glad it was a short shoot.
The shows I really enjoyed and of which I’m proudest, are all on my video reels on IMDB. My hands down fave is Real Husbands Of Hollywood, supporting Kevin Hart as his old butler, Coleman. I never met a nicer guy in Hollywood than Mr. Hart. He’s totally gracious and polite and appreciates the good support you give him. Plus, he’s naturally hilarious and you laugh from the moment you get on-set until you wrap and go home. The best time I’ve ever had in Hollywood. We shot on Stage 27 on the Paramount lot, so I was totally in heaven the whole time I worked on that show. I love the Paramount lot! Totally Old Hollywood. I hear they may revive the series. I hope they do and I hope they have Old Coleman back!
Second fave is the Insidious franchise. Again, like RHOH, it was a wonderfully welcoming set–nice people who appreciated the good work you endeavored to give them. Of course, I love all the attention and love The Bride gets, but I’m wise enough to realize that it has nothing to do with me or my contribution, or very little. It’s the character herself. The character is an extraordinary creation coming out of the fertile brains of James Wan and Leigh Whannell. She is totally their creation and it’s wonderful to study it. She has very little screen time and yet, in a few short scenes, they tell a complex and fascinating life story that resonates with viewers long after they see the picture. The Bride is a brilliant creation and all props to James and Leigh. I’m very, very proud to have embodied her, twice, but, as I said I’m wise enough to know I was just the meat puppet in hands of two fine cinema artists.
Rizzoli And Isles. Was a pain. One little improvised dialogue scene on the first day, followed by two days being a goddamn corpse–one of those days spent, lying naked under a sheet, on a freezing cold slab, on a freezing cold stage for hours, which gave me a dreadful cold that lasted for a week. The whole set was likewise cold and unwelcoming, as were the two stars. A hideous experience from beginning to end. Money well-earned.
Ray Donovan was likewise a bore. I had auditioned with a pretty interesting dialogue scene, but in the day we shot, before I ever had a chance to do the scene I’d auditioned with, my role had been changed to a silent, brooding, presence while the actress in the scene, playing my character’s wife, ran her mouth. A nervous, uptight, set under the grip of a nervous, uptight producer. Only one day’s work and it was lousy. I was glad when it was over.
I don’t have the strength or interest to go over the rest of my resume. All of the “‘tween” kid shows, iCarly, etc. were lots of fun. Loose, easy, nice people, silly stories, a few days work–basically fun.
THT: What about your more recent projects? Like for example I Am Fear
TF: I know nothing about I Am Fear. It was one day’s work–just a scene to be used as a button at the end of the flick, if I understand correctly. I’ve known the director, Kevin Shulman, for years through a mutual friend, Matthew Wider. He did a few low budget horror flicks which I kept trying to get auditions for, but he never had me in. Then, bingo! he called me to do this one scene at the end of I Am Fear. As I always suspected, Kevin is a terrific director, and I did good work for him. We hit it off, so I hope he uses me in his next one for a bigger role.
That just about concluded my interview with Mr. Tom “Bride In Black” Fitzpatrick.
Look out for Tom in the upcoming horror spoof [currently titled] “The Lift“, starring alongside Maile Flanagan (Naruto, Disney Channel’s Lab Rats and Nickelodeon’s Pig Goat Banana Cricket). The Lift is under the direction of William “Billy” Butler (Ghoulies II, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III).
TOM JOINED TWITTER! Be sure to follow Mr. Fitzpatrick @Fitzmousse