Sporting a five o’clock shadow and toting a paperback copy of “You Are Not a Stranger Here” by Adam Haslett LAW ’03, Hollywood and Broadway actor Jason Patric delivered a Berkeley Master’s Tea Monday afternoon.
Patric, who is known for his movies “Your Friends and Neighbors,” “Sleepers” and the box office flop “Speed 2: Cruise Control,” spoke to 40 students about theaters, movies and his career choices.
Patric began his presentation with a 10-minute speech about what he considered to be the pros and cons of modern Hollywood.
“The world we live in today is about sight and grab and sound bite,” Patric said. “It’s not about acting but about money. You can get away with murder in movies. You can sit there half-lit, and then someone puts in music six months later and suddenly you’re emoting.”
But Patric gave a softer treatment to Broadway and the world of theatre. He currently plays Brick in a Broadway version of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” co-starring Ashley Judd and Ned Beatty.
“Broadway lets you enter into the classic, pure form where words mean something and poetry means something,” Patric said. “It’s nice to think poetry has a real, visceral meaning in today’s over-hyped, zealous world.”
A 45-minute question-and-answer session followed Patric’s speech.
Patric thoroughly addressed the theme of himself and his own canon throughout the question session. He said he had decided to make movies he liked — regardless of their marketability — long before independent films gained the cachet they currently enjoy.
“I’ve been fairly unsuccessful in the ‘Google way,'” Patric said in response to a question about his relative obscurity compared to his Hollywood peers. “I have no problem with publicity, but I have a problem with celebrity preceding work.”
Patric said he is “saddened by our culture.” He elicited laughter from audience members by lambasting popular cultural institutions such as the “American Pie” movies, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, and reality TV.
When asked why he continues to work in a business despite loathing its politics, Patric said he is too old for any drastic changes. He said he “wouldn’t come into the business now,” but that because he chose a career in entertainment as a young man, he is stuck in the Hollywood machine.
“This is what I’m shaped for,” Patric said. “And at 37, I’m woefully unqualified for anything else.”
And though some members of the audience appeared taken aback by Patric’s bluntness, others said they were pleased with his candid speech.
One audience member, Sara Schlemm ’07, said she was impressed and surprised that Patric discussed his personal motivations for becoming an actor.
“I expected him to talk about his career choices more,” Schlemm said. “Whereas it was more about his perspectives on his career. And I was surprised he admitted that [starring in] ‘Speed 2’ was not a great choice.”
Jonathan Kidd GRD ’04 was also surprised by Patric’s speech.
“I didn’t know what to expect because I always imagine [Patric] as the 19-year-old he was in ‘Lost Boys,’ a movie I’ve been watching since I was 13,” Kidd said. “Seeing him in real life kind of destroyed that. But it was a pleasant surprise. He was more serious than I expected.”
Patric will next appear as the soldier James Bowie in Touchstone’s “The Alamo,” due to come out April 2004.