Q&A: Mark Patton reflects on “FREDDY’S REVENGE” and More
One of the more significant things that occurred in the wake of NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, the 2010 documentary about the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, was the re-examination of the series’ second entry, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE. Since that time, the film’s lead, Mark Patton, has taken to the convention circuit, providing a very visible presence for what many have labeled the gayest horror film ever made. In honor of his upcoming appearance at THE MASSACRE in Chicago (see details below), Patton talks to FANGORIA about his memories of his NIGHTMARE cast mates and the platform that he has created for himself as an activist and humanitarian.
FANGORIA: You made A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 over twenty-five years ago and the series is still thriving today. What has been the best part about the NIGHTMARE legacy for you?
MARK PATTON: To be a part of one of the biggest horror franchises in the world is a gift. I am famous, but not. I have used my A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 fame for many purposes of which I am proud…HIV awareness, The Trevor Project, issues of bullying. When I put on the glove, people give me a few minutes to speak. I also love the character, Jesse Walsh. I am very proud of him. He and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 have aged well. I have to admit, after NEVER SLEEP AGAIN when I started appearing at conventions and film festivals, I felt a bit like Sally Field in SOAP DISH. A day or two of being a movie star is great. I am not sure I would like it as a full time profession.
FANG: Can you talk a bit about the family dynamic in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2? Clu Gulager and Hope Lange, whom played Jesse’s parents, were very experienced stage and screen performers. You had some stage and screen work under your belt, but Christie Clark, who played your younger sister, was just starting out. How did you find that you worked together as a quartet?
PATTON: I simply adored Hope Lange. Do you know that the year she shot A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2, she also played in BLUE VELVET? She was, at one time, a world class movie star, yet she had no ego. She was lovely, liked a drink when having her hair done—but she was always a pro. Clu is nuts in a really fantastic and interesting way…just like me. As I age, I think I look more and more like him. Isn’t that odd? Christie was a doll and, of course, turned into one of the most famous soap actresses of all time. As did Martha Byrne, my darling little sister in ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER! She went to work on her soap (AS THE WORLD TURNS) weeks after we finished ANNA and stayed for 25 years! If you have me for an older brother in a film, you are lucky!
FANG: The casting director of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 created a great visual picture with the film’s young leads. Your lightness was a great contrast to Robert Rusler’s swarthiness while Kim Myers balanced you both out with a brighter quality. Do you recall anyone else being considered for the roles of Lisa [Meyers] and Ron [Rusler]?
PATTON: I have known Robert Rusler since he was a kid. He was the first one hired for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2. I was next and, together, we choose Kim Myers. I do not remember the names of the other two girls for Lisa. We had a blond, a dark headed girl and Kim. There was never any question that it would be Kimmy. She was delightful, perfect really. We all love her a lot!
FANG: If your character, Jesse, could have gone on to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 3: DREAM WARRIORS, what would you have liked to happen to him?
PATTON: Please take a look at JESSE’S LOST JOURNALS at www.staticmass.net. I wrote Jesse’s story there. I do feel they missed an awesome chance for Freddy to have a doorway to both worlds (in A NIGHTMARE 3) with Jesse for the real world and Nancy for the dream world. But, I am just an actor. So who knows?
FANG: The world recently lost genre icon Karen Black. Can you talk a little about working with her and seminal director Robert Altman on COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN?
PATTON: I have just signed a contract to write a book about that time with the working title of SINCERELY JOE, I WAS THERE, TOO, YOU KNOW. It is a sweet book about the year an innocent, naive boy stepped into a dream world. There are only 3 Disciples of James Dean left: Cher, Kathy Bates – and me. If I do not save the history, no one will. This was just a blip in Kathy and Cher’s careers, but it was a turning point for everyone including Robert Altman. I did not do many movies, but I choose well don’t you think?
FANG: You, also, appeared in ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER which has some spookier science fiction connotations. Can you (or your clone) talk a bit about that project?
PATTON: Actually, ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER is my favorite film—just for me. My nieces and great nieces know every word. It is a lovely movie that even adults enjoy and it is a way to introduce younger people to information about science and the Holocaust. Actually, someone should remake this movie. It is just great!
FANG: Horror lovers often feel outside the norm. Therefore, they often relate to their final girls (and guys) as characters who survive against devastating oppression. As a gay man whom has spoken out about bullying and the discrimination you discovered in your early days in Hollywood, is that something that you can relate to, as well?
PATTON: [Laughs] How much time Do you have? I am a great believer in destiny and God having a plan for each one of us. We just do not know what it is. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 was called the gayest horror movie ever made. Still is… I screamed like a girl. Why is it such a huge insult to be compared to a girl? We talk a lot about that in my panels. It destroyed my confidence that I could be perceived as ‘normal’ and thus ended, I thought, my career. But it became a classic and cult favorite. They now call me the first male Scream Queen. I love it! I now get to speak to a group of people who may not get to hear positive stories about GLBT people and HIV, because they think it does not apply to them as Hard Rockin’ Hetero Dudes. I get to represent Gay Horror and GLBT horror fans and I hope I am doing them proud. I used to ask, God why me? I was a very good actor, I could have been something special and the answer came back loud and clear one day. ‘Mark, you are special and I have given you everything that you need to be a good witness of something most gay men did not live though. I gave you a film or two. I gave you a safe place to be ill from HIV AIDS. I gave you a comeback via NEVER SLEEP AGAIN and I gave you a rock to stand on to speak truth to power. When you put that glove on people listen…for a minute! A minute is all you need to save someone the agony of AIDS. I gave you all of this, now use it!’ I do and trust me I have just begun. You have not seen the last of me. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep or you will miss my fabulous 2nd Act!
Come meet Mark at THE MASSACRE, 24 hours of movie madness, on Saturday, October 12th, at the Patio Theatre, 6008 N. Irving Park Road, in Chicago. Other special guests include APRIL FOOLS DAY’s Fred Walton and DEAD AND BURIED’s Gary Sherman. Tickets are $20 pre-sale at Brown Paper Tickets and $24 at the door. For full line-up and details, visit the event page here.