Patrick Heusinger stars in new Amazon’s new series Absentia as FBI agent Nick Durand alongside Stana Katic, who plays his missing wife Emily Byrne. “Basically at the beginning, you meet a man and a woman who are in love, they have a child who’s 3-years-old. We learn that they’re both FBI agents. She’s covering serial crime and she follows a soft lead on a serial killer, and she disappears,” Heusinger explains. Nick’s wife has been declared dead “through circumstantial evidence” and the killer has been put in jail. “We fast forward 6 years later and my character has remarried, my son is now 9-years-old. At 4 a.m, one morning, I get a phone call from someone. I wake up thinking it’s gonna be working and it ends up being [my wife’s killer] on the phone telling me she’s still alive.”

This creates quite an awkward tension between Nick, Emily, and Nick’s new wife. “I just remember thinking on set, when we’re all three in the same room, as a character you’re constantly saying, I want to show this person that I love them and that they’re who I’m with, while simultaneously trying to be sensitive to the needs and the potential trauma that is currently being experienced by your ‘ex-wife’ and that was certainly complicated waters to navigate,” Heusinger said. “And if you’re playing someone who is somewhat sympathetic then maybe they go all out and they have full conversations with these human beings and try to explain to them your feelings, but I wasn’t. I was playing an introvert who is not a professional at handling his emotions. So that was a difficult thing for me to try to grapple with as an actor because on my end, if I were in the same situation, maybe I would try to visit more, participate more, but that’s not what this human chose to do, that’s not what the writers gave me. Part of the job of an actor is to try and understand through the events that the writers have given you, how a human being might be reasonably or unreasonably behaving.”

For Heusinger, playing Nick took him to some dark places. “We had a lot of fun as a cast, we all liked each other. The problem though was that I was playing such an intense human being that I kind of lived in that world for three months,” he said. “The way I describe it to people is that I kept this man at arm’s length when I went home, but he was always around me. This character would be in my thoughts before I would go to sleep and when I was working out in the morning every single day. What’s great for me, this is my first full television show. This is the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to have a narrative like this where I get to explore a character and try to participate in a greater narrative and see where I can give my efforts to help tell the story best. So there was a lot for me to learn. There so much coming at me in the way of endurance and handling stress.”

While Heusinger loved starring in a TV series, getting the rhythm of TV down was a learning process for him. “One of my favorite scenes that I shot on set was a very difficult day for me on set because I was grappling with personal artistic struggles that had nothing to do with anything on set, but those are gonna come up. This is how you grow and how you move forward,” he said. Heusinger added that, despite being pleased with how that scene turned out, he was having personal struggles and that his co-stars helped him get through. “It was a great opportunity for me to receive the trust and grace that Stana was giving me through my stressful period, and it was nice. Those are the kinds of things that you prize when you look back on a project like this. You want to be in an atmosphere where artists feel safe and where all artists feel they can express themselves to their greatest capacity.”

With Absentia wrapped and now streaming on Amazon Video, Heusinger is taking some time off before looking for his next project. “I find myself in a very new position in my life, which is I’ve been spending all my life killing myself just to try to be working, and I’m now in a position where I’m reading scripts and I’m trying to find something beautiful that I’m attracted to,” the actor explained. “I’ve been taking my time, I’ve been traveling a lot and I’ve been trying to do a lot of self-exploration. I’m 36-years-old and so for approximately 14 years, I was going full blast just trying to make ends meet. [Now] I’ve been offered the opportunity to see Japan and see Spain and I just went to Iceland, and I’m trying to take advantage of it while I have the time. Hopefully, something comes along soon that I’m madly in love with, but I haven’t seen it yet.”

Full interview transcript below:

Q: What’s the premise of Absentia?

A: With the story, basically at the beginning you meet a man and a woman who are in love, they have a child who’s 3-years-old. We learn that they’re both FBI agents. She’s covering serial crime and she follows a soft lead on a serial killer, and she disappears. We fast forward 6 years later and my character has remarried, my son is now 9-years-old. At 4 a.m, one morning, I get a phone call from someone. I wake up thinking it’s gonna be working and it ends up being, I left out a major plot point which is they realized that she had been killed through circumstantial evidence, and six years ago, but this gentleman away into jail and convicted him circumstantially, and this phone call which I get at 4 am six years later, is him [my wife’s killer] on the phone telling me she’s still alive.

Q: What’s the dynamic of the love triangle?

A: I just remember thinking on set, when we’re all three in the same room, as a character you’re constantly saying, I want to show this person that I love them and that they’re who I’m with, while simultaneously trying to sensitive to the needs and the potential trauma that is currently being experienced by your ‘ex-wife’ and that was certainly complicated waters to navigate. And if you’re playing someone who is somewhat sympathetic then maybe they go all out and they have full conversations with these human beings and try to explain to them your feelings, but I wasn’t. I was playing an introvert who is not a professional at handling his emotions. He’s not a psychologist and was certainly not prepared to deal with it on an intellectual level. So that was a difficult thing for me to try to grapple with as an actor because on my end, if I were in the same situation, maybe I would try to visit more, participate more, but that’s not what this human chose to do, that’s not what the writers gave me. Part of the job of an actor is to try and understand through the events that the writers have given you, how a human being might be reasonably or unreasonably behaving.

Q: What’s was your favorite moment from the set?

A: We had a lot of fun as a cast, we all liked each other. The problem though was that I was playing such an intense human being that I kind of lived in that world for three months. The way I describe it to people is that I kept this man at arm’s length when I went home, but he was always around me. This character would be in my thoughts before I would go to sleep and when I was working out in the morning every single day. I was on complete lockdown. I was on a meal plan, I’m working out every morning, I go home at night. My schedule was to wake up, eat in the meal plan all day long, work out in the morning, then I would get picked up. I had a wonderful assistant named Karina from Bulgaria where we shot, and we would go to set and we would review what we did the night before and then we would shoot all day and I’d come home and review the work for the following day. Then when we had a day off, which was usually once a week, I’d then spend the entire day prepping for the following day of work which I had already done a ton of work on when we started shooting, so I’m kinda trying to remember through notes and thoughts that I had, the work that I had done maybe a month and a half ago, so that was kind of intense. What’s great for me, this is my first full television show. This is the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to have a narrative like this where I get to explore a character and try to participate in a greater narrative and see where I can give my efforts to help tell the story best. So there was a lot for me to learn. There so much coming at me in the way of endurance and handling stress. I mean I remember there was this one really tough day and one of my favorite scenes that I shot on set was a very difficult day for me on set because I was grappling with personal artistic struggles that had nothing to do with anything on set, but those are gonna come up. This is how you grow and how you move forward and I was having struggles on that particular day. There are some days where I’m being a wide-open vessel and you’re being a great actor for everybody and there were some days where I wasn’t being trusted or I wasn’t expressing feeling in a room of safety, which on this particular day, that I’m thinking of, we were shooting a scene from I think episode three or four where I get on the phone and I’m standing with her and someone tells me that she’s gotta be the one who did it. I find out that she left this hotel room and I confront her about it and it was a really intense scene and a really intense day and it was one of my prouder moments on set, I was really proud of how the scene turned out but on set that day it was a great opportunity for me to receive the trust and grace that Stana was giving me through my stressful period, and it was nice. Those are the kinds of things that you prize when you look back on a project like this. You want to be in an atmosphere where artists feel safe and where all artists feel they can express themselves to their greatest capacity.

Q: What’s next for you and your career?

A: I find myself in a very new position in my life, which I’ve been spending all my life killing myself, I mean really hustling, just to try to be working, and I’m now in a position where I’m reading scripts and I’m trying to find something beautiful that I’m attracted to. I’ve been taking my time, I’ve been traveling a lot because I’ve never traveled in my life really until this year and I’ve been trying to do a lot of self-exploration. I’m 36-years-old and so for approximately 14 years, I was going full blast just trying to make ends meet. [Now] I’ve been offered the opportunity to see Japan and see Spain and I just went to Iceland, and I’m trying to take advantage of it while I have the time so that’s really where my energy is right now. I think I’m gonna be going back to Japan in March just because there’s more to see and more for me to fall in love with. Hopefully, something comes along soon that I’m madly in love with, but I haven’t seen it yet. It’s new for me too because I can’t audition for TV anymore. It’s such a weird thing, I didn’t even know this was a thing. Like you get a tv show, and now that you’re on a tv show, you’re not allowed to do anymore tv and that’s primarily what I had been doing prior.

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