Read our exclusive interview with Patrick Fabian, who plays Reverend Cotton Marcus in the new Lionsgate horror movie ‘The Last Exorcism,’ which is set to hit theaters on August 27, 2010. The film follows Reverend Cotton Marcus, a disillusioned evangelical minister, who decides to film his last exorcism on a farmer’s seemingly-possessed daughter.
Shockya (SY): You’re most well-known for guest-starring on numerous television series, including ‘Las Vegas,’ ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Big Love.’ Why did you decide to take the lead role (as Reverend Marcus) in a religiously-themed horror movie?
Patrick Fabian (PF): First of all, I grew up on horror films, so I think any chance you get to play a preacher, any actor wants to take that. It’s larger than life, it’s a fun role to play. There’s plenty of good men before me who have done it.
SY: How did you prepare for the role of Reverend Marcus?
PF: I read a lot of books about exorcism. Daniel Stamm, the director, gave me some books. I also watched some preacher performances. You know, the televangelists of our day. Tim Haggart, Jimmy Swaggart, those kinds of guys. I think my character, Reverend Marcus, had a lot in common with them, in terms of showmanship, not so much in terms of their mercenary aspect. I think Cotton has more of a heart, and that’s why he’s doing what he’s doing. He hired a documentary film crew to follow him, his last exorcism, so he can hang up his cross, and expose the exorcisms that he’s been doing, and the hocus-pocus that they’ve been.
SY: As you said, the movie is presented as the lost footage of Reverend Marcus’ last exorcism. Why do you think that documentary-style horror movies, like ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ have been so successful?
PF: I think with the documentary kind of feel, there’s a whole audience that’s been trained with the camera phones and reality television to accept the fact that reality doesn’t have to be perfect. That it provides an immediacy and authenticity. In horror films, you want the feeling that you’re experiencing it there, that it could be happening to you. Zoltan Honti, our cinematographer, blows our audience into the heart of the story. So by the time we get to the second half of the film, the audience is going crazy. You really feel it.
SY: Eli Roth, who wrote, directed and produced some of the highest-grossing horror films of the past decade, including ‘Cabin Fever’ and ‘Hostel,’ produced ‘The Last Exorcism.’ What was it like working with him?
PF: He’s fantastic, you know. He came to fame doing ‘Cabin Fever’ and ‘Hostel.’ He’s a producer on this film, so his prints are on it, his fingerprints are all over it. What we got from Eli was an enthusiasm as a producer. He would come to the set, and remind us and encourage us, to always do the scariest thing possible. To make it scarier, to make it better. He was a great cheerleader when it came to that. I can’t thank him enough, because without Eli seeing the script, and without Eli liking it, it wouldn’t be getting made. So it always starts with him.
SY: How is ‘The Last Exorcism’ different from other movies about exorcisms?
PF: Well, you know, there’s always the original ‘Exorcist.’ Everybody loves it, and that’s the granddaddy of them all. Daniel Stamm, our director, told us to watch those films and forget them. We’re not telling a tale like that. There are parallels, as there’s a crisis in faith and a possessed girl. But the struggle between good and evil, well, crisis of faith, in that matter, are the subjects of stories that are thousands of years old, not just 35-years-old. What we have here is an entirely new way of telling the tale, and it’s an immediate, gripping way. It’s a really smart thriller is what it is.
SY: ‘The Last Exorcism’ premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. How did it feel having it premiere there?
PF: Well, that was the first time I had actually seen the film. I never seen it top to bottom, and neither did Ashley Bell, the girl who plays Nell Sweetzer (the farmer’s possessed daughter). So we were thrilled to see it with an audience for the first time. The audience reaction exceeded our expectation. They saw the humor in it, they felt the scariness in it. There were at least five or six jolts in the film.
SY: Based on your experience in ‘The Last Exorcism,’ would you act in another horror movie?
PF: Absolutely, I love horror films! Like I said, I grew up on them. As a 14-year-old boy or a 15-year-old boy, they scarred the sh*t out of me! If this movie can make a couple of teenage boys lose their cool, I would be more than happy, and I’d be more than happy to be in another movie that does the same thing.
Written by: Karen Benardello