Last but certainly not least in my series of interviews from the set of Tales of Halloween is Pat Healy. You all know Pat. He’s in Ti West’s The Innkeepers and last year’s excellent Cheap Thrills. But Pat has 80 credits under his belt as varied as Magnolia (“You call me lady!?”) to Captain America: The Winter Solider, where he shares the screen with Robert Redford. This isn’t some career-spanning look at his past work though. We get into a few of his previous roles, but we spent a surprising amount of time discussing things like trick or treating in Long Beach and Stephen King’s acting ability. As with everyone I interviewed that night, Pat was incredibly generous with his time and I’m eternally grateful.
Miles: So I think we may have met before at one of [name redacted]’s birthday parties.
Pat: Yeah, one of the video game parties?
Miles: I think so, but I may not have had any concept of who you were back then, I hate to say. This would have been a few years back.
Pat: No, no. I only went once, so it’s entirely possible and I don’t think I stayed very long.
Miles: And I may have been pretty drunk by that point, anyway.
Pat: Yeah, I really wanted to get up there and see the whole operation. It’s quite a drive from here.
Miles: Yeah, his place is super far and I was coming there from Long Beach.
Pat: Oh, my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew live in Long Beach. I actually spent Halloween in Long Beach.
Miles: It’s a fun Halloween town, I think.
Pat: Yeah, I took the kids trick or treating.
Miles: And I should also say that I saw you in The Midnight Show a couple of years ago.
Pat: Yeah, that was fun. They asked me to do that again this month and I wasn’t able to, but I’m hoping to do it again soon.
Miles: What I liked about that show was, I don’t think I’d seen you be that overtly silly before.
Pat: Well that’s what I used to do. I used to do sketch and a lot of people that are part of that show are people I used to do sketch with about ten years ago. It’s not how I started, I mean, I started doing theater, but I did move into doing sketch in addition to everything else.
Miles: Who did you know in the cast? I know Frank who I think is the associate producer now.
Pat: Eric Moneypenny and Michael Busch — I guess who’s not part of it anymore — Nic Wegener. All of them. Yeah, they’re all people that I grew up working with before. Joe Chandler, Hal Rudnick.
Miles: Hal was actually my sketch writing teacher. I’m not a sketch writer by any means, but I tried it.
Pat: I took sketch there (UCB Theater) with Matt Besser something like nine years ago.
Miles: So this is really cool, you’re on a set with Neil Marshall.
Miles: I heard a little bit about what the movie is about, but I didn’t hear too much about your character. Are you a medical examiner?
Pat: I’m actually a forensics guy. And you know, the movie is about a killer pumpkin that’s on the loose and at the beginning no one knows what it is. And Kristina, who’s the cop, doesn’t believe it and I run the bite marks on the victim’s body and do the plaster cast and do a 3-D model off of that and comes off as a big, grinning jack-o-lantern. So she goes to track it down and I have an unrequited crush on her.
Miles: Are you playing the scenes together mostly or is your character back in the lab, on the phone?
Pat: No, no I come with her.
Miles: Okay, I wasn’t sure.
Pat: It’s mostly her, but then she comes back into the station and then I sort of come in and aide her in the climax here.
Miles: What has it been like working with Neil?
Pat: Great! I didn’t know him, but I was very pleased to get a personal invite from him, as he was a fan of mine. That was a thrill. And as I was saying to someone else earlier, a lot of the work I’ve been doing lately has been pretty heavy and so it’s nice to do something that’s a little — there’s a teacher that I used to have that says, “know how deep the pool is before you dive in, you don’t want to hurt yourself” — this is just fun, we’re not taking ourselves too seriously. It’s a lot of running around, a lot of laughs.
Miles: I’m guessing when you’re talking about some of these darker roles you’re talking about Cheap Thrills and Compliance.
Pat: Yeah, both of those were pretty heavy lifting and darkly emotional things that you live with. It’s not just that it does start to take a toll with you personally, but you don’t want to get too identified as one thing or another. I like doing that stuff, but as you say, you didn’t even know that I did comedy which is a whole other thing that I do. Something like The Innkeepers showcases different sides of that. And I think even Cheap Thrills to a certain degree.
Miles: It’s really funny because I really liked The Innkeepers, but I feel like it’s the first in a coming wave of 90s nostalgia films. Because that read so much to me — and not in a bad way by any means — as an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark specifically.
Pat: Yeah, some people have said that. I mean, I’m a little older, but people talked about Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark, and even R.L. Stine I think had written something nice about the movie.
Miles: Yeah, it’s funny because it’s got some really great jump scares in it, but it’s also very gentle for the most part.
Pat: It’s very traditional. It’s also like some older movies, like The Uninvited with Ray Milland and… what’s the other movie I’m thinking of?
Miles: The Innocents?
Pat: The Innocents, yeah. Yeah, it’s very traditional and classically structure and shot on 35mm in widescreen. And the location is very classical and traditional. I really enjoyed working on that a lot.
Miles: Do you have a sense for what the tone or the vibe of this short is going to be?
Pat: It seems like it’s going to be very silly and fun. I grew up in the era of — when I was 10 to 13 years old — with Creepshow and Cat’s Eye and Tales From The Darkside and Tales From The Crypt a little later. I love Twilight Zone, but Creepshow in particular was scary and creepy but had a sense of fun. There are some segments that are flat out, like the Stephen King one that he’s in, it’s broadly comic.
Miles: Why didn’t he act more?
Pat: (Laughs) Don’t you have the answer?
Miles: Have you ever seen — not to veer off into Stephen King land — but the trailer for Maximum Overdrive?
Pat: I saw that in the theater the night it came out!
Miles: I would have loved to have been on that set with Emilio Estevez and Stephen…
Pat: And Pat Hingle!
Miles: Pat Hingle! And Yeardly Smith too. Lisa Simpson isn’t in front of the camera enough.
Pat: Yeah, that was based on a short from Night Shift, which was a book that I read when I was ten or eleven years old and that was one of those stories that always gave me the creeps.
Miles: Are you getting to interact with the killer pumpkin at all?
Pat: No, I think it’s a… well, I may later tonight. We’re gonna have a showdown with it. But I think it’s going to be a largely digital thing from my understanding, but I think they have some kind of model here tonight. We’ll see, maybe it’s terrifying. I’ve seen the drawings of it and I held the 3-D model that I made of its mouth, but I haven’t seen the thing itself. It’s going to be like facing down Jaws.