One of the most dedicated and dynamic actors in show business, Patrick Faucette has been on a hot streak in recent years. Fans of film and television may recognize him for his roles in notable films and television shows like: ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,’ ‘Teenage Bank Heist,’ ‘The Office,’ ‘Southland,”Hot in Cleveland,’ and ‘Cougar Town.’. Most recently, Patrick has made a splash in television OWN’s highest rated drama ‘The Haves and the Have Nots.’ Written and directed by Tyler Perry; Patrick plays the role of Tony Watson, the long lost father of Benny Young (Tyler Lepley). His character creates quite a stir in the lives of the “have nots” with his renewed interest in the life of his son, it’s a point of conversation throughout the whole series. Faucette’s dedication to his craft and powerful performances that are turning the heads of critics and fans alike. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with this dynamic actor to discuss his career, the challenges of bringing his characters from script to screen, his upcoming projects and much more!
They say a career in the entertainment industry isn’t for the faint of heart. How did you get started on your journey and what made you pursue it as a career?
I started off as a musician. I’ve played the Bass Guitar since I was about 10 years old and I was in 3 different bands by the end of High School. I went to college at Boston University on a Football Scholarship. After college I moved out to San Francisco with some friends who were actors. I went to a lot of plays and finally they convinced me to do a play and I was hooked. I started taking acting classes, doing commercials and then I moved to Los Angeles to pursue film and television.
Who would you cite as your biggest influences or inspirations along the way?
I would have to say Denzel Washington. His career shows you what is possible as an actor. Starting off as a successful actor on TV with “St. Elsewhere” and moving on to movies and making these incredible transformations into characters like Malcolm X and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. His performances inspired me to study my craft and be true to the character.
What has kept you inspired through the years?
Great movies and great performances keep me inspired. They make me want to stay in the game and keep working on getting better so that one day I’ll be getting offered these great roles in great movies.
Many people recognize you from your role on “The Haves and the Have Nots.” For those not familiar with the series quite yet, what can you tell us about him?
‘The Haves and the Have Nots’ is about the complicated relationship between the rich Cryer Family and the families of their hired help; and how they are intertwined in drama. I play Tony Watson who is the long lost father of Benny Young (Tyler Lepley) who is Hanna (Crystal Fox) the maid’s son. In season one Benny invites Tony, a fellow churchgoer, into his life as a blind date for his mom not knowing he is really his father. At the end of season one Benny finds out that I’m his father but he has an accident and is left in a coma. In season two, you find out that I have a kidney problem, and I want to take my son off life support to take his kidneys (this is only after the doctor tells me he probably won’t recover and that we should “start thinking about organ donation”). So if you haven’t seen the show, you can probably guess that I’m the bad guy this season; or one of many bad guys.
What was it about this character that intrigued you and made you pursue the role?
Originally, the character was only supposed to be in one episode as a blind date for Hanna (Crystal Fox). When we started shooting Crystal mentioned to Tyler Perry how much I looked like Tyler Lepley who plays Benny. Then after shooting our first scene together, Tyler Perry rewrote the scene and wrote me in as Benny’s dad. That’s when the real fun began. We had to improv a lot of our second scene together and we developed the character and our relationship along with Tyler Perry’s guidance. It was an actor’s dream come true.
What do you think that you brought to the character that may not have been in the script originally?
I brought Tony’s back story to bring him to life; to give him some depth. He may seem like a cold-blooded selfish guy, but there is a reason he does what he does. That’s what makes him real. Everyone knows someone like him and can relate whether they like him or hate him.
Are there elements of your own personality that the viewer may catch glimpses of through this character?
I have 3 kids of my own, so you may catch a glimpse of pain in Tony’s eyes in the hospital and in the court when he lets his son’s condition get to him. Any father would, even if he wasn’t in his son’s life. Benny is still his son.
Whether it is this project or another, do you have a particular process for bringing a character from the script to the screen?
Yes. I will usually go through a battery of questions to find out who my character is, where he’s from, what does he do, what happened in his life to make him do what he does, his likes and dislikes and so forth. I take what the script gives me and I fill in the rest and discover what makes my character “tick”.
What have some of the highlights been for you on this projects both on scene and behind the scenes on the set?
One of the biggest highlights is I get to work with Tyler Perry. He’s such an icon in the industry; he writes, directs, produces, TV and movies. I don’t know how he does it. When does he sleep?
This show has a tremendous cast. What have you picked up from your craft working alongside this very talented group of people?
It’s so wonderful to work with such great actors. Most of my scenes this season are with Hanna (Crystal Fox) and she is unbelievable. When you’re working with someone that talented, you just have to watch them and let them affect you. So I’ve learned to just be present and stay true to my character. Crystal will provide all the emotion and my character has to internally try to push it away and concentrate on my own medical problems. She’s so real you can’t help but be affected by it and that’s what makes Tony’s character real; that internal struggle not to be affected by it. Juicy actor stuff!
What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts about that project?
I would probably say the most challenging part of the project was getting used to the speed that Tyler Perry shoots. You can’t just gradually ramp up your performance and give it all on the close-up. He shoots with three cameras sometimes so he may be shooting your close-up on the first take. You have to bring your “A-Game” from take one. The most rewarding part of the project has been the response we’ve gotten from the fans. It’s been incredible, we keep breaking records. The mid-season finale had almost 3.6 million viewers. It really validates what you’re doing as an actor.
Where do you hope to see this unique character heading in the future?
As far as Tony Watson’s character is concerned, I hope in the future he can do something to redeem himself in the eyes of the fans, only to fall from grace again by doing something really “low down”. That’s Drama!
In addition to working in television and film, you have an extensive theater background. Do you find yourself drawn to any particular aspects of each medium?
The theater gives you that instant gratification in the form of the applause. You gotta love that applause. I love the intimacy of film. You just have to think it and the audience can feel it. I’ve done a lot of TV so I feel very comfortable on the set and I feel like is shows in my performance.
You have played a wide variety of characters in your career. What do you find yourself looking for in the characters you play these days?
I love bringing characters to life, so I can always find something to build on in the character. Even with the smaller parts, if I don’t have any back-story to work with, I’ll make up my own and maybe give him a felony conviction or something; just for fun. It gives the character more depth.
The show is written and directed by Tyler Perry. What are your recollections of meeting him for the first time?
I met Tyler Perry when I got to the set to shoot my first scene. The first thing that struck me is he is a tall dude. He looks about 6′ 4″ or 6′ 5″. The other thing I remember was how in control of every aspect of the set he was. From the lighting, to the camera angles, to the performance of the actors, he knew exactly what he wanted. You feel like you are in good hands.
What does he bring to the table for a project like this and what might have you learned from your time together?
Tyler Perry brings a built-in audience from his successful plays, movies and prior TV shows. And when that audience sees the show and enjoys it and gets hooked on it; they tell their friends “They have to watch it” and our audience grows every episode. The main thing I’ve learned from Tyler Perry is that he has got to be “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” and I have to keep working hard and never give up if I want to be successful in this business.
The films and shows you have been a part of don’t easily fall into one genre, which is something I find very cool. It parallels you career in that way. What do you find yourself looking for in the characters you play these days?
I still haven’t decided if I like comedy or drama better. I think that’s a good thing because I love to do them both. I just want my character to have an impact on the story and be memorable. Whether I’m bringing the drama like Tony Watson or bringing some memorable comedy like my character in ‘Cougar Town’ or ‘The Office.’
Your career has been and continues to be very diverse. Is there a particular type of film or genre that you are anxious to tackle in the future?
ACTION FILMS! I’d love to do an action film. I want to be that ordinary guy put in an extraordinary position and have to fight my way out or save the world or something. I’m pretty athletic, so I’m up to the physical challenges of that type of role and I think it would be a lot of fun to do that type of film.
How do you feel you have evolved as an actor through the years?
I think I’ve had a natural progression as an actor. As I got more experience on sets and with different mediums and different genres, I feel more comfortable on set, and when I’m more comfortable and relaxed, I’m able to access more emotions, listen better, and find more truth in the scene.
You have been part of many wonderful productions and have really been making a name for yourself. If a lesson can be learned from your life and times, what would it be?
Be persistent, keep learning, and most of all never give up. The longer you’re in the game, working hard, the better your chances of success are.
What other projects are on the horizon that have you excited?
First of all, I’m excited to see what Tyler Perry has in store for my character in Season 3. I’m also involved in a project called ‘Reborn’; it a series in the early stages of development. It’s like ‘The Wire’ meets ‘7th Heaven’. It’s written by Jaimyon Parker and produced by Thomas Bell. Right now we’re working on getting some name actors and raising the money to shoot the pilot.
Do you have any plans or aspirations to pursuing aspects of your career behind the camera, be it writing or directing at some point?
I’ve already started doing some writing and I have a lot of ideas for TV shows, I just have to find the time to “just do it”. I’m sure at one point I will want to Direct. It’s kind of a natural progression for an actor.
When you aren’t working on a new project, how do you like to spend your free time?
Well, I’m married and I have three kids that keep me pretty busy. With sports, practice, games, and school, we are always on the go. I’m also a Licensed Physical Therapist and still work part-time seeing a few patients when I’m not acting.
What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to aspiring filmmakers and actors?
First of all, I would say love what you do because if you don’t the business will eat you alive. Second of all, be in it for the long run. Like I said, the longer you’re in the game, the better your chances of success. Lastly, have fun doing it, whatever level you are. Whether you’re doing plays, one liners, directing Webisodes, or whatever, have fun and enjoy what you’re doing. It’s all part of the journey.
Catch up with all the latest developments with the always gracious Patrick Faucette at these locations: