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The Running Man
In between busy schedules of joining sinister religious cults, drug taking and marrying each other, our A-List cinema stars sometimes try and justify their immorally large pay cheques by alluding to "diligent" role preparation. Poor old Robert De Niro, for instance, would remind us he binged on hamburgers and delicious pastries to play porky Al Capone in The Untouchables. Child-adopting bantam Tom Cruise spent three months in a wheelchair - sitting down, you'll note - to portray crippled Vietnam vet Ron Kovic in Born On The Fourth Of July. For Castaway, Tom Hanks grew a particularly testing beard....

Cynics, of course, would note this is a load of fat arse: if our sequin-farting brethren truly professed authentic acting groundwork, they'd go all the way. Ewan MacGregor would spike up on low-grade Glaswegian skag between takes; Russell Crowe would have dismembered a few Italians; Anthony Hopkins could have at least gorged himself on a small child. Is it too much to ask?

Take The X-Files' new cast member and Mulder replacement Robert Patrick, for instance. As the fabled T-1000 in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgement Day, body-morphing or time-traveling were sadly unlikely - but no matter. Instead, admirably, he resigned himself to a period of vicious training hell at the hands of an Israeli Special Forces Commando. "His name was Uzi Gal," remembers Robert. "I don't know if he's named after the gun or whatever, but he's the toughest son of a bitch I've ever met." The georgia-born thesp winces at the memory. "He essentially put me through what commandos do. I'd swim out into the ocean for miles with a sand-filled knapsack on my back. Then I'd do a thousand sit-ups - with him holding my feet and my head going underwater." And it goes on: "After a few hours of weights and martial arts, then came weapons training. I'd run in between barrels, he'd yell, 'Explosion!' and I'd have to dive and roll. For hours. It was excruciating."

"I'll admit it," he cringes at the cruel roll call of his back catalogue. "Most of the movies I did since Terminator 2 are complete shit. [but] It gave me my career - and I'm incredibly grateful for that."
Robert Patrick
But it worked. At 21 - when Robert had ditched a possible career in American football for the stage - he weighed 215lb; now his frame thinned to a scant 155lb. Little did he know, however, that the effect on his career would be even more emaciating. From co-starring in one of the Nineties biggest blockbusters, he was reduced to T-1000 cameos - Wayne's World, The Last Action Hero and, less notably, for the interactive ride T2-3D at Universal Studios - and bit-roles like a crack addict in chop sockey flick Double Dragon and Demi Moore's husband in Striptease. "I'll admit it," he cringes at the cruel roll call of his back catalogue. "Most of the movies I did since Terminator 2 are complete shit. It gave me my career - and I'm incredibly grateful for that - but afterwards no-one in Hollywood knew what to do with me. I had ten years of banging my head on the wall. I had a wife and family to support, so I took the best I could. But I was like, 'Why the fuck don't these people offer me different roles?'".

Suddenly, he was on a downward spiral into the straight-to-video dungeon: the domain of Steve Guttenberg, Lou Diamond Phillips - even, dare we say, late-period Chuck Norris. The answer? More changes of appearance: "I gained weight. I purposely changed the way I looked so people wouldn't recognize me from T2. I don't think even the film reviewers knew I was the same guy. It was a little frustrating."

"So they'd put a bit of tape on a camera truck, and I'd just lock eyes on it and chase after it. The first few times, I caught the truck: I was cooking."
Robert Patrick in T2
However, the ploy worked. Respectable roles followed: in Cop Land with Sly Stallone, the evil coach in The Faculty, and even guest spots on well-respected TV shows like The Sopranos. And the Lazarus-style comeback culminated last year when he landed the role of FBI special agent John Doggett in The X-Files. He now fills the male lead as David Duchovny tones down his involvement as Mulder. Ironically, he beat such B-movie co-luminaries as Bruce Campbell and Lou Diamond Phillips to the part. Reportedly, he then jokily asked for a 70-year contract. "I've been living different lives for the past few years," he decides. "Now it seems like it's all coming together."

Indeed it is: this year, we'll also see Robert in proper, released-at-the-cinema-first films like Texas Rangers, All The Pretty Horses, Sylvester Stallone's Eye See You and even "family-orientated" comedy Spy Kids, with Antonio Banderas. But for now, this is a man still working for his crust - FHM greets Robert pottering around his kitchen after a typically punishing 80-hour week on The X-Files. It turns out last night's filming went on until a bleary-eyed 5am."And it's pretty adverse conditions," says the 42-year-old, without rancor. "It gets cold in California at night, believe it or not. I've been spewed out of things, regurgitated, buried alive naked and repeatedly covered in a kind of orange marmalade goo. Then I get to go home to my wife and kids."

So what were you possibly shooting until 5am?
It was just me and David Duchovny, doing episode 18 of the season, where Mulder comes back. I go off without Scully to cover an incident on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. Mulder's there - he's not supposed to be - and there's tension as I've been assigned to The X-Files. We don't know how to deal with each other, but we basically solve this case: let's just say it involves some sort of "black oil" organism.

What kind of on-set pranks alleviate the late-night misery?
We've having a lot of fun. I came in the other day and David was sitting with his back to me. So I wandered over to say hello and he was sitting there with his pants down to his ankles. I was like, "What the hell's that? How I'm supposed to act? That's not in the scene!"

Will it be on the secret X-Files "bloopers tape", only shown to staff at the christmas party?
No. My blooper reel is going to be X-rated - I usually go off into profanities. I mean, the very first scene we shot when I joined, Scully had to throw water in my face. I'd only met Gillian Anderson that night, and we had to do it from several different angles, and for different reactions. She seemed to have a lot of fun doing it. Not so much for me though.

Still, it can't be too hard: she was voted the World's Sexiest Woman by FHM readers....
I certainly agree with their choice. She's a very sexy woman. I think it's the whole package; she's beautiful, intelligent, got a great sense of humour, she's wonderful to look at. A few days ago, we couldn't figure out where Scully would sit to interrogate this guy. So we did a take with her sitting on my knee, like a ventriloquist's dummy. I'm a lucky guy: I get to go to work and look at her all day.

How have The X-Files "nerdcore" fans reacted?
For me, it was the first time there was speculation when I was cast. I literally couldn't get on the internet before anything had aired: I thought "Geez, I haven't even done anything yet and already these people hate me!" But it's understandable - it's their show. And I haven't had any derogatory or anti-Doggett mail yet, so I think all the fans have accepted what Chris Carter - the show's creator - wanted to do.

Some Sci-Fi fans - albeit slightly stupid ones - will be waiting for you to sprout some huge chrome spike, la Terminator 2. Will we see Agent Doggett do the T-1000 run?
No - once we got T2 done, I never wanted to do it again. The run was a lot more work than fans realised. We wanted to convey a sense of relentlessness, of a predator really selecting a target, pursuing it, constantly in forward motion. He was a machine, but a fluid machine: oblivious to everything else but his prey. It got really, really detailed - to go from the live-action guy to the computer graphic and also the animatronics. But it paid off: those transitions are seamless. So they'd put a bit of tape on a camera truck, and I'd just lock eyes on it and chase after it. The first few times, I caught the truck: I was cooking.

Did you manage to steal any props from the set?
I have the liquid metal helmet; it's a chrome helmet signed by the entire cast and crew. I also took the belt from my cop uniform and the mirrored sunglasses. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave me a World Gym jacket that he autographed - that was cool.

Wow - a far cry from your humble roots in Cleveland, Ohio. How much of a struggling actor were you?
After a boating accident in 1984, I realised I was waiting tables, sitting around not doing a fucking thing. I thought, "You're just going to wake up when you're 50 years old and you're still going to be a waiter." The more I asked myself what I wanted to do, the more I kept coming up with "actor". So I told myself to get off my ass and drove to LA. I had $3,000 saved up so I thought, f*** it, I'll just sleep in my car. I'd go into gas stations and have a bath in the sink, and used a payphone as my contact point. It didn't last long, but it was enough to make me realise it's a brutal world out there.

Indeed - one of your first films was Roger Corman's Warlords From Hell....
And let me say this: thank god for Roger Corman. The man is a legend: without him, 90 per cent of this motion picture industry wouldn't have jobs. He gave me the part because he'd say because he'd say, "Alright, you got to ride this motorcycle and jump off this cliff into this bag." And I'd do it. It got me a reputation, and people kept hiring me.

Ever gone too far with this cavalier attitude to life?
Many times. In Behind Enemy Lines, I had to ride this motorcycle and sidecar down a dirt road in the Philippines, with guys in a Jeep launching bazookas at me. One of the rockets then hits the sidecar, and I'm supposed to lean down and disengage the sidecar mechanism, kick it away and keep going. I'm 26 years old, pretty cocky - I think I can do this "trained stuntman" shit. So I bob along at about 40mph and unhitch the sidecar, which is on fire, of course. But then the bike starts to teeter. I can't control it, and it flips: all I remember was flying through the air. I hit the dirt - really hard - and the bike flies over my head. But then the pursuing jeep tries to avoid me in the road and rolls itself, barely missing me again. The guys in the Jeep barely escaped dying. It's easily the stupidest thing I've ever done.

Did you have the same devil-may-care attitude in your youth?
I was a big jock in High School. I had a Mustang, and did a lot of street-racing. I was a bit of a hard drinker, and I'm not too proud of that. We'd do stupid stuff: we once went round the neighborhood collecting For Sale signs. We got a couple of thousand in the end - but I'm not proud of that either.

As a jock, what was your favourite nerd-intimidating technique?
I think the worst thing we ever did was take that hot ointment that you put on sore muscles and put that in somebody's jockstrap. That's always good for a laugh. You see the guy put it on, the next thing you know his balls and pecker are burning up. If people haven't done that yet they need to try it out.

Did you try it on your younger brother Richie - now the lead singer with metal band Filter?
To this day, I hear him scream on a record and I remember watching that scream evolve. I had ten years on the guy and I was a bit of a bully. I'm listening to their new album at the moment, and it is a hard, intimidating record. My brother is a tormented individual - I'm glad to have played a small part in that.

He's a former guitarist of Nine Inch Nails - have you been to any outrageous backstage parties?
He's done some totally rock 'n' roll stuff that makes me go, "Jesus Christ!" I'm talking about groupies, you know? They do a great show, but afterwards - well, Richie's really fond of strippers. He probably knows every strip club across the country. I have a wife and two kids - I'm at a point in my life where I've calmed down. Richie lives for the both of us.

Returning to The X-Files - if you were to abduct someone yourself as an alien, who would it be?
Easy - George W Bush.

Not a big fan of the gun-happy hick, then?
No. I'm amazed we've elected him President. It's a little hooky to me. He's elected by the swing of the Florida vote - where his brother is governor. And the man who's really calling the shots? It's his old man - and he's an ex-CIA spook. Jesus, I work on The X-Files - we deal with conspiracies every day.

There's a bit of anger here, isn't there?
Let's just say I'm not thrilled with the outcome.

Moving on, which alien abduction fate would you choose: spending your life in an alien zoo, having an eyeball sucked out and replaced with a Terminator-style metal one, or the traditional anal probe?

That's a good f****** question. I guess I'll have to go for the eye. I'm not too crazy about having anything shoved up my ass; I have a hard enough time with a prostate exam. In fact, it's in my X-Files contract: no anal probes baby!
Article by Chris Bell from (UK magazine) FHM (May 2001) and transcribed by tinnypriv. Originally posted to www.xfilesUK.com




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