Patrick Flueger and I are in bed. Well, we’re a few thousand miles apart, and his girlfriend is in his room in Vancouver while I’m laid up in New York with a fractured foot. But still, technically, we’re in bed — and considering getting ice cream.
When not lounging about on his day off, Patrick currently stars as Shawn Farrell, a man whose touch can either heal or harm someone, in the USA Network hit series The 4400. He made his made his feature film debut in The Princess Diaries, and has two new films coming up — You are Here and Last Resort.
Patrick talks to PopGurls about The 4400, his new movies and what it’s like to see his old high school photos (makeup and all) on the web.
What is your favorite part of The 4400 concept?
I like how we show the fear that humans have of the unknown. Even when their fellow humans are in a situation that even they don’t understand. [The 4400] – they’re just human beings and they’re just as confused as everyone around them is, but they get ostracized. Society puts a label on them and they try to lock them away in quarantine or try to separate them from society in certain ways, put regulations on them. I think that’s an interesting concept.
If you disappeared for a big block of time, what would be the first things you would do when you got back?
(laughs) Probably, have sex. Let’s be honest with each other. That would probably be my first call. And then… my brain only lets me get as far as the sex. I’m a young, 23-year-old male.
If you could take Promicin and have your own powers in real life, what power would you want?
I would love to have shapeshifting abilities. I could look at anything and decide that I’m going to shapeshift into that. I could shapeshift into people, into objects.
By having that power, I would be getting a lot of other powers. You can kind of do anything – you can breathe underwater if you turn into a fish. For brute strength, I could turn into a gorilla. Like, turn into a gorilla, lift the dresser, move it out the bedroom, turn back into myself and watch some TV. Then after you moved the dresser, you need to go over to your buddy’s house so you just turn into an eagle and fly over there. You wouldn’t have to deal with L.A. traffic, you wouldn’t have to deal with the 405, it would be amazing.
What have you enjoyed most about Shawn’s journey?
Just growing up with him. Sometimes, at my age, actors play characters younger than themselves – and he’s a character about my age.
He’s grown up a lot through the seasons and I feel that I, too, have grown up a lot through the seasons. Just incorporating my own life changes into his, and into the character. It’s been fun. It’s been an interesting way to usher myself into manhood, by ushering the character into manhood. It helps with the self-awareness and self-reflection, which is important for anybody, anytime in their life.
Why do you think people relate to him so much?
He really represents the best of the situation that they’re in. The crazy situation of the 4400, he’s trying to find the best outcome. That’s his life goal at this point. Not just for the 4400, but the non-4400. He wants to bring people together and he wants to find peace in his own life, and help people find peace in theirs – and I think those are really commendable qualities. And qualities that people like to relate to – that kind of person is enjoyable to be around. He tries to think positive and help people around them. He’s a good guy, and who doesn’t like good guys? (laughs)
In Season Four, has there been anything that Shawn’s gone through that you’ve particularly liked?
I really appreciate that he really found his own voice this year. He separated from Jordan Collier and he’s really on his own path, making his own decisions and fighting for them.
In the past, I think he’s been really influenced by the people around him. Fair enough, he’s a young man and the people around him were powerful people. But now he’s finding his own power in his voice and in his actions. I really appreciate that – it’s hard to play the Yes Man sometimes. It gets frustrating – you want them to stand up for themselves or stand up what you know they think is right. It’s been really nice this year to watch him find his own voice and to be a part of that.
In high school, you were in the band Sleeper 7. Are you still playing music?
The guys in that band, a lot of them are my best friends. We all still play music together. The guitarist lives with me part time in L.A. and we record music. I think this fall, I’m going to try to get some stuff going. It’s really for me in this point in my life. We were a high school garage band – we had a really a good time, and I think if we had pursued it, we might have turned it into something bigger. But for me, now, I had a really good time with it. It’s my therapy. I sit and play music, write my songs and play for myself. Sometimes for my girlfriend, so score some points. (laughs)
Oh – do you have any particular songs that woo her well?
Well, her song. I wrote a song about courting her.
Yeah… it’s kind of dirty. But it’s kind of the story of courting this girl and at the end realizing, you really like her. She laughed about it because she’ s like, “I don’t get just a romantic love song. I get this song about the ins and outs and you seeing me from across the room and being like God, I gotta have her! — you take it in a different direction.” We have a good laugh about it.
I think that kind of song is more fun.
It is. Anybody can say I love you over and over again, but I think I like the direction that I took. It’s for her and it makes more sense.
And are you still sporting the heavy eyeliner look?
Oh! You went to those websites! You aren’t actually going to put those links up! I’ve been trying to figure out who the heck put those up – because I really don’t want those up.
It comes up on the first page in Google!
I don’t even know who that is! I don’t know how these people got these high school pictures. Out of context, it looks really… (laughs). We just had a really good time. We painted our faces and everything.
That’s the problem when you get a little bit of fame – people come out of the woodwork.
Yeah, but I have two [fan]sites and that’s one of them. (laughs)
Tell me about your upcoming movie, You Are Here.
It’s coming out in August. It’s like Go, where you see the same night from different perspectives — about a bunch of friends. It kind of revolved around my character and Kathy, played by Lauren German. She’s going to be the next big thing. She’s phenomenal. Her character and my character are best friends, and I’ve been in love with her for a long time and we get drunk one night and make out and I think she feels the same way for me. So the whole movie is about this night where I’m going to tell her that I love her and that I want to be with her. But everything goes wrong and gets turned upside down.
And Last Resort?
[Ed Note: There be some spoilers below]
Last Resort is a little harder to explain. It’s a psychological thriller about this group of best friends that are graduating from college and they go away for a weekend as a last hurrah. This man attempts to invite them into his own dementia by putting them into this situation where they have to kill each other until one person is left standing. If there’s one person left standing at six a.m., then they can go free and live. If there’s more than one, then everyone will die. It sounds like Saw, but you have more time to invest in these characters in a personal level.
That reminds me a bit of Battle Royale.
I had a really hard time going in on this movie because it felt like Battle Royale. I find it to be a really disturbing movie – there’s enough violence in the world and showing kids killing each other? But then as you read on, these kids [in Last Resort] really do fight against it. It’s not an inhuman script. I’d like to think that there’s a lot of humanity in myself and the other actors. There’s some really great young actors and we worked hard on making it different, making it emotional.
The guy [we encounter] used to rock climb every year with his friends. One year, they fell and they were connected to a tie line together. He was at the top and as the line was breaking, he chose to cut free his three friends and his girlfriend – and let them fall to their death to save himself. So he tries to bring other people into that situation where people have to choose between themselves and the people around them. Whether they’re going to all go down together honorably or fight each other to live. It’s based on the idea that he had this last moment with his girlfriend before he cut them free that nobody else understands. He wants to make other people understand, and in particular my character and my girlfriend.
It’s interesting, though. It’s got some good elements in it – in the beginning, [the friends say] absolutely not, we’re going to protect each other. As the fear starts to build and people actually die, people start turning on each other. It’s a very interesting look into the human psyche and what fear can do to you.
We’re big Veronica Mars fans here at PopGurls, and you’ve worked with two Veronica Mars actors – Teddy Dunn in Last Resort and Chris Lowell in You are Here.
Funnily enough – Teddy and I tested for Shawn Farrell. He and I were the last two, and it was his first thing that he had ever tested on. We didn’t realize it until a week or two into shooting [the movie]. He was like, “Dude. Do you remember?” So I had known Teddy from sitting in a very small room, waiting to test – which was somewhat uncomfortable.
Chris Lowell – he’s a great man. I had a great time with that guy. He’s hilarious, he’s so much fun. We all went to Utah in January for Slamdance. We had such a good time.
Garry Marshall wrote a role specifically for you in The Princess Diaries. What was that like to get that call?
[At the time,] I didn’t have an agent, I lived on a farm in Minnesota. So these two casting directors out of Minnesota, god bless them, would submit me for things.
A couple of buddies and I were going to a skate shop and I stopped in to grab something [at their office] and they were both sitting behind the desk, smiling at me. I had forgotten about The Princess Diaries, because I had read for it three weeks earlier. Looking back, I don’t know how that could have ever left my mind. But at that point, I’d forgotten about it [because I hadn’t heard back].
They said, “You got a role!” and I’m like “WHAT?!?” Me and my buddies and we all ran around and jumped up and down. Then they said, “It’s not the role you went for…” I said “Oh.” “It’s one Gary wrote in for you.” “OH!” It was a rollercoaster ride – it was pretty special.
Getting to where I am now has been a combination of luck and people being very kind to me – and Garry Marshall was one of those people. I owe him a lot.