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Dreamwatch: Hasta la Vista

Hasta la Vista
Jenny Cooney Carillo

“It feels great, but I really feel like I’m joining David because I’m another part of the ensemble and a brand new character. ” ~ Robert Patrick on joining the show

While he is best known as the heartless cyborg in Terminator 2, Robert Patrick is hoping all that will change now he is assuming the lead main role on The X Files. Jenny Cooney Carillo gets the lowdown on FBI agent John Doggett

Talk to the unassuming 41-year old actor and he quickly makes it clear he is not only genuinely grateful to join the cast of one of the most successful television series ever but also for the chance to remain in Los Angeles close to his wife of ten years, Barbara, and their two children aged four and one month.

In the X Files seventh season cliff hanger, Mulder was abducted by what appeared to be an alien spaceship and Scully revealed that she is pregnant. As the eighth season begins, Scully searches for the truth about her missing partner while contending with a resistant FBI bureaucracy and a sceptical new partner, Agent John Doggett, played by Patrick. Doggett’s character is introduced to Scully in a dramatic scene which ends with her throwing water in his face. Where can they go from there?

Question: While you are not quite replacing David Duchovny, there will be comparisons. How do you feel about that?

Answer: It feels great, but I really feel like I’m joining David because I’m another part of the ensemble and a brand new character. I can’t wait to see, and I hope the audience does as well, how the character of John Doggett evolves. I’m really excited about it personally because I think it’s one of the best roles I’ve ever had the opportunity to play. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to actually work with David a little bit more than I have, but I’m enjoying working with Gillian too.

Question: How was your first day on the set?

Answer: I was actually a lot more nervous on that day than I have been in a lot of other situations on big movies where I don’t know anything about the star I’m working opposite. It was partly because I was really just so excited I couldn’t calm down and I was a little goofy that day , as I think I am now with you!

Question: Did you feel a lot of pressure?

Answer: I don’t feel any pressure because the hard part was really just seeing if this was going to work out, that I could actually be able to do it with my schedule the way it looked. So once that obstacle was cleared, I feel like if I just work hard and take it scene by scene and show by show, everything else will take care of itself. The writing is there and if I execute the role of John Doggett the way Chris Carter designed him, I think it’s a win-win situation , no matter how I look at it.

Question: Was it difficult to make the decision to join a show that could be on its tail end and has so much to live up to?

Answer: I’ve been looking to try and get into television for the last five years so I was actively pursuing that idea during pilot season with no idea what was going to present itself. When this came along, there was no hesitation. It’s a great show. I had met Chris before and I think he’s a terrific writer and the show is unique.

Question: How did you develop the character of John Doggett in your mind?

Answer: I’ve played some FBI types before and I feel like, with this character, I’ve done a lot of things that they’ve asked me to do before at different times in my career. I have a lot of experience to draw off to help create this guy, and I feel like it’s perfect timing for me.

Question: Doggett does start off on Scully’s bad side. Are you expecting a backlash from the fans?

Answer: I hope they have an honest reaction and they’re compelled one way or another. If they don’t like the guy, they don’t like the guy. If they do like the guy, they do. I’m there, but I am the new guy and I’ll just be happy if they have an honest reaction, whatever that is.

Question: Were you much of an X Files fan before winning the role?

Answer: I work so much I don’t watch a lot of anything, to be honest with you. I have watched The X Files for the last season when I could and I always enjoyed it every time I watched it. I’m not a hardcore fan of any genre. I’ve done some science fiction in the past and I’ve actually produced a couple, so I guess I’m excited about that aspect. But the main thing was when I watched the show I was always amazed at the performances of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. I think they’re marvellous in the way they handle their dialogue and their relationship, and I think the dialogue in the show is great. The weird thing to me is that a lot of things that happen in the science fiction world sort of seem to come to fruition. It’s like what was thought to be pretty far out years ago, all of a sudden now we’re doing it and it’s commonplace and accepted, which is kind of neat.

Question: How hard is your new schedule on your family?

Answer I’ve never been one that’s had to take time off. Last year I was gone for ten months and the year before that eight months, and I’m really talking about gone. So my wife and my children are really excited about the fact that at least I’m here in town and I do get to go in and see them in bed every night. This was another reason that I was really curious about getting into television, because I love to work, so I figured I might as well get into something that was a little bit more structured than having to do a film and take time off before finding out what my next gig was going to be.

Question: Were you working on The X Files when your second son was born?

Answer Yes, we were way down near San Diego when my wife went into labour and we were all kind of worried about whether or not I was going to have to be helicoptered in, but everyone on the show was great about trying to make sure I was going to be there for my wife, and in the end I was there.

Question: You played a bad guy in Sopranos recently. Are you actively looking to get away from that bad guy image now?

Answer My career is really interesting to me but probably boring to a lot of other people. I get to do a lot of big, mainstream movies every once in a while, and they just happen to cast me usually as a tough guy or villain, I do a lot of smaller films that I’m proud of where I’m a good guy, but they never hit a wide audience so it’s great to finally hit a huge audience who can now see me in a different light. If all you ever know me as is T2 or the asshole form Striptease or the prick in Copland …..at least my parents can enjoy this one!

Question: You play Matt Damon’s father in the upcoming drama All the Pretty Horses

Answer That character is a sweet, damaged, World War II veteran who is a rancher but comes back from the war shell-shocked and a shadow of his former self. It’s a small role but pivotal because what I can’t give Matt Damon is what he goes looking for and sends him on this odyssey. That movie was one of the highlights of my career because Matt was terrific, I loved the character, and Billy Bob Thornton was one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with.

Question: One recent American story about The X Files season compared our coming into the show as similar to Dick Sergent in Bewitched. Do you think that’s fair?

Answer: No. They’ve created this new character so why not be excited about that? That’s what I’m excited about. The possibility of whether it’s going to do this or that or have this effect or be compared to whomever, who cares and who knows, anyway?

Question: When did you first know you wanted to become an actor?

Answer I had acted briefly in elementary school and done a few things crammed between sports I played, but I don’t think I ever took it seriously because nobody from my family had ever done it and I lived in the Midwest and you just don’t take that kind of career seriously there. But I did sit in on some drama classes and they intrigued me. We moved around a lot when I was a kid so I always felt like I was acting every time I went to a new city and had to figure out who I was going to be. I studied acting very briefly but I can’t say I’m trained. I’m a guy who read a lot of Stanislovski and really kind of banked on the fact that I had something organic.

Question: What kind of baggage does Doggett bring to the show? Do you know much about his background?

Answer I can’t tell you what went on with Doggett or anything about his family, female relationships or his personality. I hate to be vague but it’s not fair to the show to do that. I can say he has a great deal of respect for women and he definitely appreciates them and he really appreciates Scully and admires her craft and the way she goes about her work. I think that’s what charms him from the start. Our first scene together has me going out on the line and lying to her to try to get some information and she catches me at it , and Doggett digs that!

Question: Do you believe in extra terrestrials?

Answer: I go back and forth on that. When I was doing the movie Fire in the Sky, about alien abduction, I met those guys and I kind of believed their story so I believe something happened to them, but I don’t know. Doggett doesn’t believe so I think now that I personally will be buying into his mindset and I won’t buy it either. But it’s a big universe and there could be something out there. I think God created the universe so I think if there’s anything out there, He created it.

Question: What does T2 mean to you now and what did it mean to you then? Has it helped or hindered you in the long run?

Answer It was the greatest experience that happened to me where I was in my career at the time. I had never worked with such a talented writer/director and it was a wonderful opportunity to work with the best of the best in every field of filmmaking. Being an unknown and having an experience like that and that thing being a hit on such a level. I think it might have had a little bit of an effect on my career in a negative sense, but that’s OK because it just makes me work harder to get people to try to see me in a different light, and that’s my journey. I’m very proud of it, but I don’t know if I could ever do that again.

Question: So would you be interested if a cameo arose in T3?

Answer I don’t know if I could do a cameo. I like where my career is going now with The X Files and I like the gig I have now. I haven’t talked to Jim Cameron or Arnold in a while. I see Arnold occasionally and he’s a very nice man and I love his wife, who is fantastic, but I’ve never spoken to him or anybody else about being in the next Terminator movie, and that’s all I can say about that.

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