It is not often that I get the opportunity to have a follow-up interview with one of my favorite actors, but veteran Patrick Gorman assured me that we would have to do another one after we finally met back in July, at the World Premiere of the Gods and Generals Extended Director’s Cut. It took a long time because of our busy schedules (his being more exciting than mine, of course), so we decided to do one by email rather than phone, to recount his experiences at the premiere and reenactment of First Bull Run, as well as his planned participation in the upcoming television mini-series To Appomattox. Also, we must not forget the vampire film we talked about last spring, which many of us are anxiously awaiting to see!
Patrick’s original interview with me, which you can read here, is also up for nomination for my blog’s “Interview of the Year” Award, the voting for which begins tomorrow, December 1st. Please keep checking back on this site to vote for Patrick, as he goes up against many co-actors and crew from Gods and Generals and Gettysburg, as well as other Civil War historians and filmmakers.
GC: How did you enjoy your trip to the Gods and Generals premiere in Manassas this summer?
PG: The folks from Warner Brothers were very complimentary and organized and conducted a fine event. It was great to see Ron again after a long separation. It was good to reacquaint myself with some and open new relationships as well. A beautiful venue. The boxed set of the new version looked great and I’m hoping the release will be a huge success. The high point though was James Robertson’s speech. Also, of course, we escaped the infernal heat for awhile.
GC: You were one of the only actors to actually stay the entire length of the film. How did you like the finished product?
PG: Actually, I was the only actor that stayed for the entire film. Not many of the guests involved with the film did stay. I’m sure they had already seen it. I’m from the school that thinks to have an opinion you better be totally informed. How could I have an opinion if I hadn’t seen it all? Well, I was surprised because I thought they were just adding what had been filmed but was not in the original. What they did was cut quite a bit and add scenes and the total effect, for me, was better than the original. I was not touched by the original but I had to dry my eyes in several places in the new version. I am not a religious person, so all of Jackson’s religiosity was, though certainly understandable and historically accurate, was a problem for me. In the original version it just left me cold. In the new version, his convictions were clear but not overwhelming and were, in my view, more appropriate to the story. After all, the title is: GODS AND GENERALS, not JACKSON. Jackson, though he was a military phenomenon, was not a character that interested me that much. He was a truly charismatic character and I’m not denying that but for me he was something of a fanatic. They do make interesting, even fascinating characters, but not necessarily likeable ones. As a soldier, I don’t think I would have wanted to serve under him. I’m being candid here. It’s called ‘opinion’ and it’s personal and I’m not into arguing the facts. Of course, Stephen’s performance was brilliant because that’s what he does.
GC: How did your participation in the reenactment go?
PG: The re-enactment was probably a success, but not for me. I was ambushed by the heat and couldn’t think straight. I go to re-enactments because of the re-enactors and, of course, because I’m invited. I’m a paid guest and I tried to honor the people who paid me with appearing at various events they planned. However, I never visited the camps or the troops and I feel that is my true function at re-enactments. I’ve always felt a great debt toward re-enactors and what they do. I’m an actor not a re-enactor. I don’t own a uniform and the only thing I have from Gettysburg are the spurs and a vest made for Hood that I never wore. I’m spoiled. I would never march around those fields to re-enact a battle. Riding a horse, saluting and being saluted and having the troops chant, “Hood, Hood, Hood” as I gallop down the line is about as good as it gets – and sometimes getting to participate in a cavalry melee – well that’s the benefit for me. What’s not to love? Re-enacting’s true benefit is to inform the public, and most especially young people, about our history. I had no idea how much the re-enactors revered Hood, despite [the battle of] Franklin, and I know that I helped fix that image of him in their minds, however flawed. I was at home in Hood’s boots and I loved riding ol’ Badger in the film and then later, Don Warlick’s Midnight. If I ever attend another re-enactment it will be with the understanding, first and foremost, that I visit the troops and that I serve the Commander of the event. Don’t get me wrong. I did have a good time but the elements did me in. I’m sure the event was successful, especially considering that a precedent was set and they will continue to have similar events from now on. As to effectiveness of the organization elements, there were high hopes, disappointments, confusion, errors and great success. How could it have been any different with such a new endeavor?
GC: When we last spoke, you were working on a vampire movie in Montana. What can you tell us about your role in it? When will it be out?
PG: It’s titled Crimson Winter and basically the ‘child’ of a talented young man from Helena named Bryan Ferriter. He and a dedicated band of young people developed a vampire epic and a whole arc of stories they hope to produce. This was the first, and I play the Oracle, a special breed of vampire that ages through the centuries, albeit very slowly. Distribution is still to come but it was a good experience for me and I was glad to be part of the beginning of someone’s dream realization.
GC: You are currently slated to play Charles F. Smith in To Appomattox. Have you done any preparation for the role yet? How did you get involved with the project?
PG: A re-enactor on Facebook told me about the project initially. I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember exactly who but it was followed by information from J. D. Petruzzi and a few others. Early on, I learned that Hood would not figure in the story arc. But Michael Frost Beckner, the writer and one of the producers thought there might be something for me. Actually, Smith is someone who I immediately resonated with. Smith was one of Michael’s favorite characters – a kind of Obi Wan Kanobi to Grant. Okay, he’s a Yankee. But that’s actually great because now my ancestors will be satisfied completely. Yes, they were on both sides. Of course, at this stage I’m just reading everything I can get my hands on about him. Much has been supplied to me from remote resources and that can be useful. An actor can never play the research but it does inform choices you may make. You can never say what is going to bring the character alive for the actor but research certainly can help you ask the right questions. Three people were instrumental in my getting involved: J. D. Petruzzi, Joel Kassay and W.E. Wolf – not to mention so many of my Civil War fans from Facebook who badgered the To Appomattox web site with recommendations in my regard. I was really moved by that effort. Now, that said, we’re not yet in production, so I won’t be ‘safe’ till I’m in ol’ Smith’s boots riding to the sound of the guns. Michael has written a great series of films and folks are going to be amazed at the scope and the care of our history he has lavished on this epic. It’s definitely not partisan, though Grant is the focal personage, it is fair and accurate. No one can be totally objective – at least I can’t – but the stories are wonderful, sincere and lovingly crafted. Again, the criticisms will be minimal and even the ‘button police’ may have difficulty finding fault.
GC: Are there any other film/television projects you are working on at the moment?
PG: Well, I’m doing a staged reading of a new play as Jefferson Davis. I’m trying to develop a children’s animated series with me as the narrator/wizard kind of character. ‘General Trimble’ – Morgan Sheppard – and I are shopping our own script which takes place at the end of the Civil War. Actors have to have many irons in the fire and I am certainly always working on something.
I would like to thank Patrick yet again for another great interview, and also for his kind words. At the end of his email, he wrote, “So Greg, I have to commend you for your untiring efforts to advance TO APPOMATTOX and be a reporter on Civil War re-enacting and living history events around the country. Positive energy, enthusiasm and passion is what you demonstrate all the time and I thank you for including me.” As always, I want to wish him luck on his future ventures, but I also want to say that I am truly blessed to be able to consider such a person as a friend. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would become this involved with films and such, and Patrick has helped me out a lot; through exposure thanks to these interviews, and keeping in touch on a regular basis.