As one of the hardest working actors in the business, Patrick Gilmore has spent the better part of 15 years in the entertainment industry. Along the way, not only has he amassed over 70 credits to date, but he has been able to jump from genre to genre and make it look easy! From comedy to drama, science fiction thrillers and romantic comedies, he has proven time and time again that he can do it all. Many people may recognize him from his role as Dale Volker, a fan favorite in Syfy’s “SGU Stargate Universe” from 2009 to 2011. It was a role that would showcase his multifaceted skill set and open plenty of new doors for him, such as his recurring role as Shaun on the critically acclaimed, DirecTV and Audience Network hit comedy “You Me Her.”
However, his most ambitious project to date brings his considerable talents back to the science fiction genre in Netflix’s brand new series, “Travelers,” where he stars alongside Eric McCormack and Marcy Warton. The show follows a trained team of surviving humans from hundreds of years in the future who discover how to send consciousness back through time, into people of the 21st century. These “travelers” assume the lives of others, while attempting to save humanity from a terrible future. Patrick is a scene-stealer as David Mailer, a funny yet sheltered social worker who cares for a traveler: a young, intellectually disabled woman named Marcy Warton [MacKenzie Porter]. “Travelers” is set to premiere in December 23rd, 2016 on Netflix.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Patrick Gilmore to discuss his journey as an actor, the lessons he has learned along the way, his latest projects and what the future may hold for this star on the rise!
Let’s go back to the start. How did you get started on your career in the entertainment industry?
That’s a good question! By default, I would think! I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office, so I had to really make sure my story was great when I was lying through my teeth about those cigarette butts not being mine! [laughs] When I was around 8 years old, my dad brought home a video camera. This was around the time when video cameras were practically a piece of furniture. You have the backpack for the battery, the backpack for where the VHS went in and the camera on your shoulder. Eventually, I just kind of absconded with it and started making movies with my friends. Fast forward to high school, when people are expecting you to make a career decision, to get people off my back I said, “I will just be an actor!” It was the only thing I felt that I really enjoyed doing. The idea of sitting behind a desk was a nightmare for me. From there, I just really got lucky, Over and over again as far as being able to work.
Did you do school plays or stuff like that when you were in high school?
In high school I did theater, mostly because my football coach was the drama teacher at the time. It was probably just a way of keeping me out of trouble! [laughs] After high school, I started doing community theater. It was through one of my directors, who gave me the name of a casting director, that I branched out. I had never done TV or film. I just went kind of blindly and said, “My director said I should audition for you.” Within a month of that first audition, I was in Costa Rica filming a TV movie! It was a total trial by fire because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! [laughs] A year after that, I moved to Vancouver to do this for real!
Obviously, taking on a career in the entertainment industry is a big step. Did you have reservations about taking the plunge?
[laughs] Yeah, you’d think I would? [laughs] How do I put this without sounding like a jerk? [laughs] I guess I would have been considered cocky. You know how kids are in their 20s; they think they’re invincible. I never really thought about consequence. It wasn’t until about five for 10 years in where I really had the thought, “I wish my parents had kicked my ass and made me get an employable degree like engineering or something!” [laughs] My parents were so supportive that I just kept trudging along not knowing that there were going to be these terrible years of not working and wondering if I was good enough or if this was something I really should be doing as an adult. So, I never really thought about it until it was too late! The time came where I have been doing this longer than anything else and I considered that the point of no return. Come back to me in a year from now or something and maybe I’ll be saying, “I think I’ll be a teacher?” I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! [laughs]
Let’s talk about influences. Who did you look to for inspiration in those early years?
We are about the same age, so you and I grew up on Spielberg and Lucas, so those were our bread and butter. From the very beginning, Harrison Ford was the man I wanted to be. Not just what he was on camera but the fact that he has a beautiful separation between his private life and his professional life, which I really admire. I don’t succeed as well because I was also a child of social media, so I get off on the Twitter pedestal from time to time. As I started to study film, television and acting more and more, I started picking up little cues, clues, habits and processes from other actors. Robin Williams was also a huge influence. Chevy Chase and Bill Murray too! I remember I got a Betamax cassette of “Chevy Chase: The Best of Saturday Night Live!” This is dating me! [laughs] With that huge camera that my dad had bought, he was still looking for it and wondered what happened to it, I re-created every sketch that Chevy Chase did on “The Best Of.” Just me! [laughs] It was a little indulgent but then I would watch it just for the timing of it and the use of his eyes. He could do nothing but raise an eyebrow and I was dying! So, I study these guys and I didn’t even know I was studying them. I just enjoyed it so much. Looking back now, I was clearly going to school.
You worked hard to get to the point where you are now. What projects from your past had the biggest impact?
I think every project has some impact on you. I think as far as momentum goes, as far as opening doors, “Stargate Universe” had the biggest influence over the direction of my career. I have Brad Wright to thank for that, as well as “Travelers.” To your earlier question about influences, Brad Wright has influenced me more than anybody outside of family. He has been invaluable to me.
I know “Stargate” and “Stargate Universe” has a dedicated fan base. What has the experience of stepping into the world of intense fandom been like?
That was another trial by fire! [laughs] I had no idea about the sci-fi fan base and how fiercely loyal they are! When it was announced that “Stargate Universe” was happening, our names were in the press before we ever filmed a frame. I had people contacting me who had no idea who I was, saying things like, “I’m a huge fan.” I immediately had this cynical attitude of, “Well, you have never seen me act. The show hasn’t even been filmed yet!” I’m very cynical as far as that I don’t understand how someone could call themselves a fan of me when I feel like I haven’t done anything to deserve that. I like to think that the important word there is yet because I feel like I can do it! I can deserve your love! One day! It hasn’t happened yet but trust me! [laughs] It was flattering, humbling and a lot to live up to, especially with “Stargate.” The franchise had been around for 20 years by the time that I became a fixture in that universe. On the other side of it, “Stargate Universe” had a lot of haters within the “Stargate” family because they considered it not a real “Stargate” show. I got in a bit of trouble doing an interview like this one where I called out some of the haters. I said, “If you guys had been more on board, maybe the show would have lasted a little longer.” Of course, websites went up calling me names! So, again, I’m flattered by it and I have met some incredible people in the fan base but it also keeps me at a distance. I guess I’m taking my cue from Harrison Ford! You want to keep something of your life private. I think people love the product more than they love the people, if that makes sense. I’m just trying to figure it all out! [laughs] I go on my Twitter app and try to figure out what people enjoy and are responding to and I still haven’t figured out!
It is a trial by fire but you handle it well!
Yeah! For the most part it’s been such a lovely, positive experience! I have done a couple conventions and they are inherently uncomfortable. I went to one called Dragon Con and people wanted autographs. I was like, “I want to get autographs! The cast of WKRP are across the hallway. Go see them! I want to meet them!” [laughs] There were so many sweet people there and I have actually made friends in that community. That is something sci-fi has that other genres don’t have, which I feel blessed about. You never see conventions or fandom as you do with sci-fi in something like a medical procedural like “E.R.” or a cop show like “Hill Street Blues.” [laughs]
You have great projects on the way. What can you tell us about Netflix’s “Travelers?”
This was Brad Wright’s baby. I hadn’t seen him since the end of “Stargate Universe” and then, all of a sudden, I’m auditioning for him again. That was back in January or February. It was like seeing a family member again! Lots of hugs and I was super excited to see him. Then I got a call back. You book it and then, no pressure, he said, “I wrote this role for you!” I was like, “Oh my god! What if I had done a terrible audition? What if I didn’t get it?!” Brad Wright, he is my champion! He wrote the role for me and then brought in a room full of amazing writers and cast members. I can’t help but brag about the show because it’s a show that’s so easy to brag about from the crew to the music to the directors we’ve had in who are people I have known for years. It’s a coming home for me. In a few weeks the whole worlds going to see it!
Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the series character you play?
The show’s about a couple of time travelers from hundreds of years in the future who come back to our present time. I am not one of those time travelers. I am somebody in the present day who is affected by these time travelers on a personal level. McKenzie Porter plays Marcy and I am Marcy’s social worker. When the time traveler enters Marcy’s body, our relationship starts anew because this is not the person that I once knew. In a very dramatic fashion, Marcy is actually a mentally handicapped girl and all of a sudden she is a completely different person. I am kind of the reflection of how the audience views the story. We are completely in the dark about what their mission is and who these people are. We give them the benefit of the doubt because, in the end, the show is about second chances. David, my character, is a very optimistic person. It’s about how far can you push that optimism and David gets pushed.
The role was written for you but what did you bring to the character that wasn’t on the original written page?
Well, Brad likes to say that David is also Brad but he just hired a better actor. [laughs] Since he couldn’t do it, we have a very similar personal attitude about ourselves. We are very self-deprecating. I don’t want to take too much credit because the words are written so well and they got my voice down to a tee! It was hard work to live up to the expectation and the quality of the show. It really was written so well that it was easy for me to do. I don’t want to say that it was an easy job because it was a lot of hard work. However, often you will get a script, look at it and say, “God, this is so bad. How do I make it sound like an actual person would say it?” And you do this without actually changing the words because you don’t want to insult the writer. With this, there was never a problem because it was so natural. It was like Christmas getting the script because I got to see what kind of fun things I got to say and who I got to say them with!
What was the biggest challenge you faced on this project?
The biggest challenge I had was that the show is a sci-fi show but it is so rooted in reality that it is intense and quite dark at times. Some of the lines and situations they gave me were so funny that within rehearsal I felt that sometimes I was acting like I was in a sitcom. You have to relay it back to the point where it feels real. The joke might be easy to raise your eyebrow at that moment or something but you have to keep this real. The writing could be so funny at times that you had to remember the state of the world literally depends on this moment. [laughs]
In addition to “Travelers,” you will reprise your role in DirecTV and Audience Network’s hit comedy “You Me Her.” What’s been the best part of working on that project?
That’s been fun! That kind of came out of nowhere! I was just a bartender who spouted off a bit of exposition and that was the end of it for the first season. They block shot it, which means for the entire season all of the scenes that take place in the bar that I work in are shot at once. I did two days of work on the first season not knowing how many episodes I was going to be in. They are so fun on that set and so freeing that they basically just get to keep the camera rolling and see what else you can bring to it. It’s very creative and collaborative. The writer, John Scott Shepherd, is so good! They just let me riff on a few things and the character grew from that. You walk away from it, just like any other gig and think, “OK, the job is done. On to the next thing.” Out of nowhere they said, “OK! Season 2! You’re needed onset next week!” [laughs] I was like, “What?! OK, great! [laughs] Here are a few more episodes! Let’s see how much fun we can have!” It was only two days on set for the second season but I think I did five or six episodes in two days! It was so cool! I got to work with Greg Poehler for the first time this year and he is so funny. He is so dry! It was like a creative exercise. I love comedy so much and it excites me, just like when I was in theater. You get that vibe when the crew is laughing. It feels like, “OK, I’m onto something good!” They got picked up for a third season! I’m not contracted but I do hope they have me back!
There are a lot of great opportunities coming your way these days. Is there something on your bucket list you’re anxious to tackle?
[laughs] Like I told you, in that first month of doing film and television, I ended up in Costa Rica. I was there for a month and a half and I thought, “This is acting! They flew me to Costa Rica, I play make-believe and they pay me for this? Sign me up!” I moved to Vancouver and thought I was going to travel the world and act my ass off. Well, since then, I think I’ve only been about an hour out of town, which is the furthest I’ve traveled for work! [laughs] I would love to do a show or film overseas or in some exotic locale. I know it sounds so silly and I should be saying, “I’d really like to work with Scorsese!” [laughs] I really just want to do a movie on a beach! [laughs] Someone write me a role where I’m just laying on the beach! That would be awesome!
When you look back on your work, how have you evolved as an actor?
Going back to that trial by fire once again, one of the things that really abruptly changed the way I looked at acting was the technical aspect of it for film and television. I came from the theater and the theater is very much a living thing. You were living this character for two hours. When you get into film and television, you get to live with this character for a minute or two at a time but you also have to remember where the cameras are and where the lighting is to make sure the light is on your face, that the camera can see you or that you picked up that mug in the same way. It’s these technical aspects that really threw me when I first started. When I look back now I can see how bad I was with that stuff. Watching “Travelers” now, I have to do something, which I rarely do, which is pat myself on the back when I see that I found the lens or did that motion exactly the same time every take. It’s a little progress! They’re very few signs of progress that you get in acting. It’s not like a desk job where you can get promoted and now you can afford a car or you have a new job title. When you see yourself growing as an actor, in any way, it feels good. It feels like, “Oh good! I can be a professional when I want to be!” I like little moments like that where I can point and go, “Oh, I am actually a professional!” [laughs] I can also show my parents and say, “See! This is a real job! Look at the skill it took to pick up that mug with my left hand 40 times in a row!” [laughs]
What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?
I don’t know if this is a lesson but there’s something my dad said to me that I think about every day. He said, “Never wish days away.” I’ve had times where I’ve had droughts where I’m not working and I just want the day to go by quickly so I can get to the next audition, get on set or have had a terrible day where I didn’t get a role. I remember telling my dad, “I just want this day to end.” He said, “Never wish days away.” I think that speaks for itself as to what it means. When I think about what I’ve learned from other actors or directors, it is all very specific but that’s something that I think about, consciously, every day. I never let a day go by without trying to learn something. Forever the student, that’s my motto!
Thanks for your time today, Patrick! It has been one of my favorite interviews of the year. I really appreciate your honesty and wish you continued success!
Thanks very kind of you! Thanks so much, Jason!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.