Saturday, March 31, 2018

Interview: DriverX Movie's Patrick Fabian - Why He Relates to His Character in this Movie about Second Chapters and Chances

Patrick Fabian stars in DriverX, the first film
about the life of a ride-share service driver

Patrick Fabian - you've seen him all over TV. He's the handsome Nurse Dan in Friends, he's the dapper yet devious Howard Hamlim in Better Call Saul, and he's been on countless other TV shows, considering himself very lucky that he's a working actor. But Patrick's luck is also do to his ability to become the role he is assigned to. In his latest movie,  Driver X, produced by Mark Stolaroff and written/directed by Henry Barrial, he plays Leonard, a middle-aged man who loses his business as a record-store owner and is forced to find a 20th century job, in this case, as a ride-share driver. In this interview I talk to this accomplished actor about just how much the role parallels his own life. We spoke on a winter day..

On Growing up in Pennsylvania 

Suzee:  Patrick, you have any snow out there?

Patrick: Its starting to snow yeah.

Suzee: That’s not good.

Patrick: It was 100 degrees when I left Los Angeles and now there’s snow on the roof

Suzee: I’m not a big fan of snow.

Patrick: I grew up in it because I’m from Pennsylvania. It was nice, it as romantic to think about it but its like 33 degrees. Its just a mess here right now. Where are you at?

Suzee: I’m in New Jersey, northern but dreaming of being in Long Beach Island now.

Patrick: Oh down the shore. We use to go to Sea Isle City when I was really young and then Wildwood Crest was our destination when we were in high school.

Suzee: I went to Wildwood  as a kid with my family. Love the beach, favorite right now is Santa Monica.

Patrick: Santa Monica is great. I graduated from Penn State in ‘87 then I flew out to Long Beach to go to graduate school in theater, of all things. I had never crossed the Mississippi before, but when I got off the plane I saw palm trees for the first time and literally I was like “Oh, I’m never going back.” I mean, I’ve worked in New York and stuff but literally I remember that moment when I was like “oh, I’m here. This is real.” And I stayed.

Suzee: Yeah I’m that way with palm trees too. I could tell you every restaurant along the Jersey Shore that imports their trees from Florida and how long they last. But you can’t grow them in Jersey.

Patrick: Yeah you’re right. That’s a good expenditure as far as I’m concerned.

Suzee:  So Penn State, that's my alma mater's rival, Rutgers..

Patrick: Oh sure. Absolutely.

Suzee: We’re doing a little better in football now. We’ve won our last two.

Patrick: When you guys bumped up out of the Big East and joined the Big 10, you knew you’d be in it for a while. You know, just getting pounded because that sort of part of the deal. You join and then you get pounded, and then you slowly start to get a program going. But Rutgers is beautiful. I’ve been to that campus before.

Suzee: My younger son is at Rutgers now.  You have kids?

Patrick: I’ve got a 5 and 7-year-old so I started way late in life. So I’m always curious when people had their kids.  

Suzee: So tell me about the movie, I found out about it on Twitter.

Patrick: Oh sure. First of all, thank you. I think Mark told me you were a supporter on Kickstarter for Driver X as well so thank you very very much. 

Suzee: I was a supporter. I know one of Mark (Stolaroff's) students, Meera, she's a director.

Patrick: Oh great. And since you contributed I am now enjoying the wilds of Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first time in my life.

Suzee: There should be a film festival in the Bahamas. They’ve got to come up with that.

Patrick: I’m sure there is. It's probably all A-Listers.

On Driver X, Trader Joe's and Classic Rock

Suzee: So tell me about your role in Driver X. You play.... do you relate to it?

Patrick: I do, absolutely. 

We were talking about age and kids earlier. What I recognize is that when I’m in a Trader Joe’s grocery store and they’re playing ‘Slippery When Wet’ from 1983’s Bon Jovi album, we’re all sort of nodding our heads. And I look around realize “that’s right, because we all were in high school when Bon Jovi came out. That’s who’s getting groceries; responsible adults with children.

"All of a sudden that moment hits you and you’re like “oh shit my music is on classic rock stations.” - Patrick Fabian

All of a sudden that moment hits you and you’re like “oh shit my music is on classic rock stations.” I make a reference to Huey Lewis and the News and anybody under 40, at this point, doesn’t know who I’m talking about. There’s that weird sensation that all of a sudden the world starts to shift under your feet a little bit. You start going “am I in an eco-chamber of my own culture and I don’t know what’s going on?” Because I feel like I’m in my twenties but I’m not.

Suzee: So you REALLY relate to the subject matter..

Patrick; The movie relates very much to me because Leonard owns a record store at exactly the wrong time in history and it goes belly up. That’s what happens with record stores. He finds himself at mid-life, the breadwinner, working on his passion project which is music and it has failed him. So he has to figure out what to do. He is sort of ill-equipped to figure out what it is to do so he ends up driving Ride Share because he needs to bring some money in; he’s the bread winner. But those roles reverse.

Patrick Fabian with Tanya Clarke in Driver X

All of a sudden his wife has to go to work now and maybe that wasn’t the role or the bargain they had made when they got married. Both of them have to figure out now, midstride, with marriage and kids how roles are changing and how easily do we put on that new coat. And I could just tell you from my own fussy middle age, I like to pretend I’m totally good with change but I’m not and it's hard to come up against that. So the movie focuses on a lot of those things. A lot of it was very easy to plug in to.

Suzee: How much filming was really in a car?

Patrick: A lot of the movie takes place during  a Ride Share and I’ the driver so my cast mates are literally behind me and I’m acting with them through the mirror like we normally do in a car. We hardly ever turn around. I remember we would be shooting for like 8 hours and we would get 2 or 3 rides in a night. These young kids would pile into the back of the car and I would be talking to them.

Every now and then I would throw out something funny because I would think of us as all being part of the same (being actors together). I would say something and I would see the light in their eyes start to fade and I would go “oh no, oh no. I’m the old man in the front seat. Oh my god my worst fears have come true.” It really played well. I think there’s a couple moments in the movie that really play well. I would love to say that I’m such a  well trained actor but really I was just appalled at what they were saying and how they were acting with me. My expressions are merely just my realization of my own mortality.  

" I would say something and I would see the light in their eyes start to fade and I would go “oh no, oh no. I’m the old man in the front seat. Oh my god my worst fears have come true.” - Patrick Fabian

Suzee: I'm not far from you in age..... I’ll make references to my kids and they’ll just look at me. My husband will laugh.

Patrick: Oh sure. There’s always an old man in the room who’s willing to pick up on the joke and make you feel good.  

Suzee: So was there ad-libbing that went on in the car scenes or anything like that?

Patrick: Yeah I think by its nature. All of the driving you see in the movie is me. There is no green screen; we didn’t have that type of money so we have cameras mounted on the hood of the car, lights everywhere and I’m driving it all. So task 1 is don’t hitting anything and don’t kill anyone. So that keeps you focused and keeps the dialogue fresh.

Related: Review of DriverX

Henry was very gracious. If things were falling out of my mouth slightly different then he would let them go that way, which was great. Then there were certain lines that were constructed that he wanted to absolutely be said. He knows what he wants the feeling  the scene to be so he has those pillars of dialogue he wants to anchor the scene around. I think the farther you get away from that pillar the looser he is with letting you make it your own.

But I don’t want to pretend I’m the writer, I didn’t sit down and write the script, although I did sit down with him and brainstorm ideas because he and I are both the same age and have been married about the same time and some of the issues we talk about in the film are very much about what a married relationship is, 10 years into it with kids. Its funny.

Suzee: What kind of reaction are you getting at the festivals?

Patrick: We screened it in Orlando last weekend. There were kids in their 20s watching it and there were couples in their 40s and 50s. You would get different reactions. The way the husband and wife would talk to each other and the kids would be like “oh my gosh, they’re really fighting” and the older couples would be like “eh.” Not in a bad way though but in a knowing way. Its a way where if you’ve lived some life and had those experiences you can relate to it. I think that’s what really fun about the film. It kind of cuts on a number of levels and you don’t really know that until you put it in front of an audience.

Suzee: Where can we see it?

Patrick: Well, as it it turns out, getting an Independent film to market is a little trickier than just wanting a Red Carpet. The good news is Driver X made it to a bunch of fFall Film Festivals where it played to great houses and reviews and now I’m traveling with it to some spring Festivals, too! Follow us  @driverxmovie on Twitter.

For more on Driver X Movie:

For more on Patrick Fabian:
or video interviews:

Instagram @mrpatrickfabian

Coming in April 2018: Part 2 of the interview with Patrick Fabian as we talk about his other projects.

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