Thursday, February 13, 2020

Interview: Patrick Fabian's Many Roles - From Better Call Saul, to Friends to Carole's Second Act Plus the Secret to Staying Alive in Hollywood

Actor Patrick Fabian is all over the place these days. This talented working actor is on a myriad of shows, from cable to the network. I met him years ago at the premiere of his movie DriverX which he starred in as a middle-aged ride share driver.  He's been promoting Better Call Saul (where he stars as Howard Hamlin) as of late as it's now on Netflix for the entire planet to watch, and just a week ago I started seeing him on promos for the hit CBS comedy Carole's Second Act starring Patricia Heaton. He plays the handsome Dr. Lewis.

But this is not his first stint on a comedy. Fans of Friends may recognize him as the eligible Nurse Dan from the Friends' 100th episode. And his resume is chock full or roles. He's been in many mvoies and TV shows including The Connors, Agents of Shield, Lucifer, Barry, Code Black, Grey's Anatomy (as a doctor again), Scandal and more.

Read on to find out more about his philosophy on life,  his life, lessons he learned, acting with Friends and  RUSH.

Suzee: Tell me about this new gig on Carole's Second Act.

Patrick: Back at a hospital again! This time, with Patricia Heaton who couldn't be more funny or gracious to work with. I love working in sitoms and she's starred in two of the most successful ones, Raymond and The Middle, so I follow her lean and hopefully keep up!

I’ll be on the last four episodes of this season...don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ve risen in the hospital ranks since playing ‘Nurse Dan’ on Friends (the 100th) so don’t miss it!”

Suzee: So I look at your IMDB and I was getting dizzy because there is so much on there. How have you managed to keep working for so long?

Patrick: First of all, I’m really lucky. There’s no doubt about it. If there’s any kid out there who want to get into the arts all I can say is this; I got an education and went to class and learned my craft. I think that gave me a leg up on the long run. I didn’t get in to get rich and famous, I got in it to be an actor.

Of course we all want to be Brad Pitt 25 years ago, all the guys who I came up with, only he got to be Brad Pitt. And the rest of us, as I look around, we go job to job to job to job. Some of the jobs you get overpaid, some of the jobs you get underpaid, some of the jobs are really good and artistically satisfying, and some of them as you’ve seen on my IMDB are terrible because there’s a lot of terrible stuff out there. Its sort of like a lunch pail. You’re a grunt. But you’re an artistic grunt. I’ve always been available to say yes to the next experience. I’ve never been in the position to be too picky and choosey. 

"I operate that everybody us moving up and down at any point. You never know who you’re going to meet." - Patrick Fabian

I know people who can cultivate and have that ability and will only do certain things. My hat is off to them but that is not the way I operate. I operate that everybody us moving up and down at any point. You never know who you’re going to meet. You might not love this particular role or audition. It's not about the job at hand, it's about the people in the room. My job is to audition. 

My job is to show up and for 5 minutes, show the people on the other side of the table that I know how to act. This is how I know to act in this particular piece with these particular constraints at this particular moment. I may be the answer for them today or I may not. That is out of my hands. No matter what, if I show this group of people that I know how to do this and I have this skill set, somebody in that room will be somewhere else at some point and remember that skills set. Or I’ll run into them and they’ll be able to say “oh yeah you were wrong for that, but you’re right for this.” I think that lends itself to having a long career.

Suzee:  That’s excellent advice. I get young actors and actresses coming up to me and I tell them they have to know what they are doing and to make contacts. That’s what I find entertainment is anyway. Its people that you know. The same group of people following each other around and using each other’s help.   

Patrick: Yeah it's tough enough as it is. Be nice and don’t be a dick. We want to be able to work with the people we like to work with. I have no illusions that there are plenty of guys out there who could have my career or do the role I am doing. There are certain things I bring to it but there are 10 guys I could name off the top of my head that I grew up with out in Los Angeles who have an equal resume and could’ve gotten this job or could’ve gotten Better Call Saul. But they didn’t and I happened to be the answer that day so I’ll take what comes with it, you know what I mean?

Suzee: Well, don’t sell yourself short though. You’re getting all of these roles and there’s a reason you’re getting all of them.

Patrick: Thank you very much.

Suzee: So let me talk to you about a role that I remember you in because I’m a big Friends fan.

Patrick: Oh Nurse Dan!

Suzee:  Yes, Nurse Dan!

Patrick: Hold on can we just pause for a second. What beautiful hair I had. I was in love with that little mane of hair. I would walk around like I was Shawn Cassidy.

Suzee:  And I know who that is. Although I was a David fan. So after you did that can you just tell me what was it like on the set? Or did anything change for you after that role?

"I remember auditioning for the role of Chandler." 
- Patrick Fabian, aka "Nurse Dan"

Patrick: A couple things. I auditioned, like a lot of other people did, for Friends when it was a pilot. I remember auditioning for the role of Chandler. Obviously the right people got it because the chemistry worked out but at the time you don’t know. At the time we were just auditioning for this pilot and we all thought “Friends? What an unimaginative title.” 

And then literally within 6 months they were on the cover of Rolling Stone and we’re like “what?” So I ended up being on the 100th episode. I had not been in all that way until the 100th episode and then I got cast as Nurse Dan.  It was so nice; they were in a very celebratory mood. And I have to say, they are world famous, rich as stitches, funny, at the top of their game, and you know what they couldn’t have been? They couldn’t have been nicer and more gracious. 

I found that onset it didn’t matter where the idea came from. They wanted to get the funniest bit. The writers wrote to their strengths. You would think after that success that a certain amount of ego would set in and solidify in a bad way. But from my observation it was like they were doing nonprofit theater sitting there saying, “No no no that’s funny” and they would cut each other off and say, “Hey try this” and give each other suggestions. They were really a tight knit band. It was so fun to be there on tape night; people were just howling. The audience just loved seeing them live. They were gracious and fun. I did a single episode of Friends and yet I get recognized for it all the time because people watch it, its worldwide, and it gets re-run and I get called out as Nurse Dan. I’m glad I was on it; wish I could’ve been on it more but I’ll take the one I got.

Suzee: Well you played an excellent part, very memorable. And what a story to tell too! Who knew about that show? I still love it and watch it.

Patrick: Oh my babysitters watch it. We come home and the babysitters are watching Friends on Netflix. I’m curious so I ask them why they are watching it and they say, “Oh it's really funny and its this and that.” In this awful, chaotic, corrosive world for a young person Friends is such a comfortable sweater. Its sexual but not dangerously so. 

They make fun of one another but in the end they’re all friends. It operates in a world that is nowhere  near to the awfulness that is going on now or even back then. And there’s nothing like it on TV. Everything is so snarky now. It’s the snark-age and we want to tear everyone down and we are going to show everybody its Kardashian land and all that. Friends is so sweet and simple. We were talking about it the other day, if you pitched this today you’d get laughed out of network executive office.

Suzee: Well Patrick now your age is showing because feel the same way as you. I grew up on the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family and you had a message. Then there was Full House.. there's not much like that anymore. The characters tend to be overly dramatic and they complain constantly.

Patrick: Boy you hit it on the head. It’s a real complaining sort of thing. Entertainment can do a lot of things but I think its also there for a bit of escape-ism. Life is tough and life is hard and chaotic. Sometimes our job as entertainers, like a good song or an afternoon in a museum, is to bathe us in what could be better and take us away form the traffic at hand for lack of a better word.

Suzee:  That’s right. That’s why I like comedies; make me laugh. Taking away all of the shows you’ve ever been on, if you had an afternoon to binge on TV, broadcast or streaming what would you watch?

"I was such a Mad Men Freak" - Patrick Fabian

Patrick: I was such a Mad Men freak. I know it was slow, I know it was all these things and people were behaving sort of badly in it but I thought the acting was really good. I was fascinated by the world they painted in it. I could easily watch that for an afternoon.

Suzanne: Interesting, Mad Men. I worked on a film with Christina Hendricks called EGG.

Patrick: She had a tough role in Mad Men and she really did excellent with it.

Suzee: A few quick questions now. Ok, your favorite drink?

Patrick: A chocolate milkshake.

Suzee:  Best vacation you ever took?

Patrick: Tahiti, Baura Baura.

Suzee: If someone was coming to California what would you recommend that they see?

Patrick: The ocean. I’d get off the plane and go right to Santa Monica pier. I would start walking north until I hit Malibu then I would walk back down.

Suzee: I’ve done that and it is great. Best thing a fan has ever said or given to you?

Patrick: Somebody sent me a bear dressed as Howard Hamlet.

Suzee:  Your favorite band from the 80s? And your favorite band that you listen to now?

Patrick: Rush and Rush. There will be 5 guys who still live in their mom’s basement who are like “YEAH!”

Suzee:  Wearing their black Rush t-shirts.

Patrick: Yeah that was my bad. That hit me and it still hits me.

Suzee:  There’s a show The Goldbergs and one of the kids is always wearing a Rush t-shirt because the show is supposed to be done in the 80s. Speaking of 80's, what's one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were 19?

Patrick: I’ve become a Hallmark card guy now. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t smoke cigarettes. Don’t smoke cigarettes morons. Just stop doing that. Save yourself, save your lungs, save the planet. Now my dad just starts falling out of my mouth.
Connect with Patrick:

IG @mrpatrickfabian