Patrick Wilson stars in the psychological thriller A Kind of Murder, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this week.

Patrick Wilson On ‘A Kind Of Murder’

In Andy Goddard‘s A Kind of Murder, based on Patricia Highsmith‘s novel The Blunderer, Wilson plays Walter Stackhouse, a successful architect who wishes he were a successful writer. Walter is also married, but, particularly after meeting lounge singer Ellie (Haley Bennett), he wishes he weren’t. Upon reading a story that involves a man killing his wife, Walter can’t help but obsess over the possibility of killing his own wife, Clara (Jessica Biel).

“This starts this through-line, this obsession with him in his own life of, ‘Wow, this man, seemingly, this other man, killed his wife. What would happen if I did that? I could never do that, but what happens if I did? And then what happens if I…,’” Wilson told uInterview, trailing off. “Well I won’t give too much away. But then yes, you get on a very Highsmithean, psychological thriller.”

Going on the journey of playing the complicated Walter was at times difficult, Wilson admits. Most difficult for the actor was likely determining where Walter was emotionally towards the end of the events in A Kind of Murder.

“This was a guy that had never been a part of something real, if that makes sense. He felt like his marriage was a sham. His career, it’s fine, but he really was a frustrated writer,” said Wilson. “He got published, but it was in a crappy little, you know, collection of stories. So he’s never felt really important, and by the end, he feels like he’s in the middle of something, which is important.”

Preparing to play Walter in A Kind of Murder, Wilson referred to Highsmith’s 1954 novel, and then dove into the 1960s New York setting of Susan Boyd‘s script.

“Obviously, the source material was a great help – the book – and even though we’ve deviated from the book a fair amount, the bones are still there,” Wilson explained to uInterview. “There’s also just the time period, which can sort of help with wardrobe, style, the way you walk, the way you sort of carry yourself. I mean, that’s something that’s sort of fun as an actor to kinda dig into.”

It was also fun for Wilson to act opposite Jessica Biel, whom he’s acted alongside and appeared in photoshoots with in the past. What impressed Wilson most about Biel’s performance in A Kind of Murder was how committed she was to throwing herself into the rather thankless role of Clara.

“She goes out on a limb. This is not her comfort zone, which is why I think she gravitated towards it. I mean, Clara really loses her mind in a way that we’re not really used to, and at times, [she’s] unlikeable and abrasive from Walter’s perspective,” Wilson said. “You know, [Jessica] is ‘a gamer.’ That’s what you say. She was down with it and that’s really all you want. You want somebody that you have great chemistry with and somebody that’s driven and that’s got the chops and that’s her.”

 

A Kind of Murder premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival April 17.

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Q: How would you describe your character in the film? -

I play Walter Stackhouse in ‘A Kind of Murder.’ It’s based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, The Blunderer. And when you meet Walter, he’s in a difficult marriage to say the least, trying to figure out an exit strategy to that. And he gets fascinated by, really obsessed – he’s a freelance writer as well, just sort of on the side – and he gets fascinated with this murder that happens. This starts this through-line, this obsession with him in his own life of, ‘Wow,’ this man, seemingly, this other man, killed his wife. ‘What would happen if I did that? I could never do that, but what happens if I did? And then what happens if I,’ well I won’t give too much away. But then yes, you get on a very Highsmithean, psychological thriller. [Laughs]

Q: How did you prepare for this role? -

I think it depends. There’s no sort of one process for each role. For this, obviously, the source material was a great help – the book – and even though we’ve deviated from the book a fair amount, the bones are still there. But with a guy that makes little mistakes along the way, you just have to have the right circumstances because what happens on the screen, is what the… Walter is going along with you. You’re seeing this as it happens to Walter, so there’s nothing too methodical about where am I going with this. He doesn’t know the conversation he’s about to be in. He just knows that he has to walk up to somebody, if that makes sense. So there’s that. There’s also just the time period, which can sort of help with wardrobe, style, the way you walk, the way you sort of carry yourself. I mean, that’s something that’s sort of fun as an actor to kinda dig into.

Q: What was your experience like working with Jessica Biel? -

Yeah, Jessie’s great, you know. We, we did the A-Team together, although we didn’t really have all that much to do. We actually did a photo shoot – 100 years ago it feels like – so I’ve known her off and on for several years, so this was something. I’ve gone to her with stuff, she’s come to me with stuff as well, so it’s pretty cool. I’ve always been a big fan of hers. Yeah, I mean, for her this was a...she goes out on a limb. This is not her comfort zone, which is why I think she gravitated towards it. I mean, Claire really loses her mind in a way that we’re not really used to, and at times, [she’s] unlikeable and abrasive from Walter’s perspective, and then you sort of try to understand where she’s coming from. And so, you know, we had a great working relationship. She was extremely driven. You could tell. Very passionate about wanting to be a part of the film. You know, anytime somebody has that drive to make...You know, she’s a gamer. That’s what you say. She was down with it and that’s really all you want. You want somebody that you have great chemistry with and somebody that’s driven and that’s got the chops and that’s her. Definitely.

Q: What was the most difficult scene you had to play? -

There’s a few scenes that were pretty difficult, I suppose. One of them, fortunately, was cut, so we don’t talk about that one. [Laughs]. You’ll never see that one – or maybe you will. Yeah, no, the ending was sort of tough, sort of understanding where he was at the end and what we wanted for him to end with. Without giving too much of it away, you want to...This was a guy that had never been a part of something real, if that makes sense. He felt like his marriage was a sham. His career, it’s fine, but he really was a frustrated writer. You know, he got published, but it was in a crappy little, you know, collection of stories. So he’s never felt really important, and by the end, he feels like he’s in the middle of something which is important.