A Candid Interview with Hollywood Actor, Marcus Patrick
Marcus Patrick has a rather commendable résumé: he’s starred in 12 movies; appeared in nine television shows; had four top 30, UK singles; and was the featured cover-star on one of the best-selling, Playgirl magazine issues – ever. But, of course, said credentials are no more than an elevator summary. Ergo, perhaps it’s time to let Marcus do the talking. Here, in this candid and comprehensive interview, Marcus divulges his school of thought on the Hollywood paradigm, Simon Cowell, and both his spiritual and theatrical belief system.
Riviera: You’ve been in the entertainment industry for over 23 years. How has your perception of the industry changed from when you first started out, aged 17?
Marcus: When you’re young and bright-eyed, [working in the entertainment industry] seems like the ultimate life: it has glamour, glitz and glory. My heroes were Bruce Lee, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger – they looked like heroes. So, growing up, I wanted to follow in [their] footsteps. But then you gain wisdom, and you discover the drug use that’s going on in order to make their muscles [more defined]. You realise [the industry] is a façade, and how many contracts may have been signed; contracts that shatter people and stab people in the back. You realise that the Hollywood machine is a vehicle that can take people off in multiple directions – directions that aren’t healthy or good in nature. These directions [have caused] people like Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Brittany Murphy to die young. We [actors] are given roles that cause us to practice insanity, and after we finish the role [we are] still, mentally and physically, negatively affected – we end up destroying ourselves. For me, now that I have matured as a man in the [entertainment] business that knows what he wants – and doesn’t want – out of life, I have to say no to offers that are truly a trip down south.
Riviera: During the 90s, you were in the boy band, Worlds Apart. Simon Cowell was your agent and manager at the time – how was that experience?
Marcus: Simon’s a very honest person. If you’ve got talent, which I had, then he’s very pleasant to you. If you don’t have talent, he can be unpleasant to you. I had enough talent to impress him, and he did his best at the time. He kicked off my career, although [our music] wasn’t as well received by the public as we had hoped. And, then, like any machine does, [Simon] shut down like a jukebox: there wasn’t much of an okay, let’s regroup and gather, you’re my brother and let’s get it together. It was more like: oh well, we didn’t have much success, we’re just going to shut this one down. He didn’t really get behind me after that. I don’t really have any harsh things to say about Simon, I actually quite enjoyed him, I found him to be rather educating. But, on the flip side, he’s what you expect from the industry, which is, he didn’t really have a lot of passion or heart and soul for me. He just saw me as a good-looking, young boy with talent.
Riviera: How has being mixed-race affected your experience in the industry? Here in the UK, it’s known that many black and minority actors move stateside to improve their career prospects. (Marcus relocated from Bath, UK to Los Angeles, California to pursue an acting career, aged 20.)
Marcus: Yes, I would say that I’m in a tough category because, ultimately, casting directors are always looking for a reason not to use you. Casting directors tend to look at it like, you’re not Latino, you’re not black enough, and we can’t use your British accent. The Descent with Rosario Dawson was probably my biggest role because she was probably the best actress I’ve ever had the chance to work with – I played a Latino guy in that, but, I’m British by nature, so my sensibility is different [to a Latino American]. I came [to America] speaking the Queen’s English, and [casting directors] were like, well that’s not going to get you any work. I mean, I got maybe one or two roles with [my British] accent. It’s like you’re having to work upon yourself to be an African-American, and [casting directors] want you to talk ghetto, sometimes, that’s what most young-looking black men – coming out of the projects – talk like. It’s a concept you have to wrap your head around.
Riviera: In 2007, you were infamously fired from Days of Our Lives – after just five months – for posing, full frontal, in Playgirl magazine. In retrospect, is that a decision you regret?
Marcus: No, not really. I don’t tend to have regrets like most people would, if they went through [a similar] situation. I look at life like a really interesting journey and I feel like my life, and this journey, is very authentic. But I was kind of hoodwinked by the publicist [who told me] that everything would be fine, and that Playgirl magazine wouldn’t publish full frontal nudity, because we had a contract. That just shows me the interesting concept as to how you can have a contract with a publicist, agent, and reputable magazine, expect them to uphold and honour [the contract], and they won’t. [Playgirl] obviously thought they would gain more funds out of exposing [my nudity]. It was an interesting learning situation for me to just observe how business operations are done – even at that level.
Riviera: You’re 40-years-old, now, but look incredibly youthful. Being in the entertainment industry, do you feel pressurised to maintain a youthful appearance?
Marcus: Well, that’s obviously one thing that most of Hollywood wants to do; [actors] like the youthful appearance – that’s what they want. And they do work very hard to create that. But my thing is not being young for that reason, although it can be a perk. But, ultimately, casting directors are confused by me – they’re like, how do we cast him when we know he’s not 27, although he looks 27 – they don’t really know what do [with me]. When casting directors are looking for men who are 40, they’re usually looking for a guy who looks run down by life. If you haven’t drunk at all since you were 25, like I haven’t drunk since I was 25, then you don’t tend to look much older than 25.
Riviera: You’ve said that you endorse – or appreciate, even – all religious doctrines. In 2009, you played the role of Jesus. How was that on a metaphysical level?
Marcus: It was interesting to be a part of that production. But, that movie never fully got funded because the [funders] pulled out when they saw that I was comfortable with my own nudity, and comfortable with gay people – how funny is that? You’re making a movie about Jesus, who was stripped naked, and many a times it’s spoken about – in the scriptures – that he gets naked and washes Peter’s feet. And yet, those who are funding it decide to pull the funding out because they’ve seen that I dance at gay clubs and don’t mind being nude on Playgirl magazine. Jesus was an advocate for nudity, and [was] certainly not going to have discrimination towards gay people. As a matter of fact, I have a theory that most of Jesus’s disciples were either gay or bisexual because they would have been at peace with the concept of being around men.
Riviera: Before the role of Jesus came along, you mentioned you were contemplating quitting the acting industry due to the negative roles you were receiving. Care to elaborate?
Marcus: Well, it’s not as much as I’ve completely quit, it’s more a case that I started to see how some of the roles were clearly going to take me down a pathway of negativity and stress. If you look at what sells in that arena, it is all about let’s sell the most, excuse my French, fucked up characters. The more fucked up the character is the more interesting they are. [The audience] wants a character who is a serial killer who now helps to kill serial killers; they want a zombie slayer who falls in love with a zombie – it’s insane. And the more insane the better. What people are unaware of is when [an actor] takes on a role like that, as Heath Ledger took on the Joker, it can have a profound effect on [the actor]. [Heath] had to make himself mentally insane, I don’t know whether he took drugs to do it, but after [the role] he was in a position where he struggled to regain his sanity – and he died because of a drugs overdose. For me, the biggest problem in acting is this celebration of dysfunction. Acting, for the most part, celebrates dysfunction and, so, you have to become a dysfunctional human being, in your own spirit, if you really want to do a good job for that character or piece.
Riviera: So, in your opinion, can fictitious characters psychologically damage the actor?
Marcus: Negative characters can be very harmful to your psyche. As an actor, when you’re using imagination, you’re creating self-belief. When you create enough self-belief it manifests in to reality. The healthier the character, the healthier your job would be to portray [them].It’s just like this: you are offered two roles. [The first role], you have to prepare to be a demonic spirit with lots of desolate trouble and horrible grudges against other people. Your character contracts a disease and dies tragically. [The second role], you prepare to play a superhero, who is an [amalgamation] of Neo, Jesus and Superman. This character saves the earth and, at the end, there is an amazing revelation that showcases how there is hope for humanity. This character is in incredible shape and, although he gets tested, he overcomes and inspires us all. You have a year to prepare for either role, and [they each] have a budget of 30 million dollars. If you choose to take the demonic role versus the superhero role – you’re an idiot. Ultimately, when you prepare for those two different roles, it’s pretty obvious that the demonic role is going to take your [spirit] and break you down with demonic vibrations: you’re going to have to practice being evil, negative and angry. You’re going to have to practice how to get out of shape and walk like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The media even reported how Denzel Washington, [who is] such a hard-core method actor, had to send himself to rehab after his role, as an alcoholic, in Flight. Hugh Jackman, on the other hand, who used to be skinny and weak, took on the role of Wolverine and his brain took on a huge transformation, in a more positive way, towards nutrition, muscle and health. So, I say it to the world and say it to myself: Marcus, start preparing yourself for a character that is a demigod, with powers, who takes care of both himself and other people. And it’s preparing for that character that makes me think it could happen.
Riviera: You played quite a malevolent character in the Descent, didn’t you?
Marcus: I was raping [another man], on-screen, for 15 minutes. That’s a role that makes a lot of people come up to me and ask, ‘How did you do that?’ I [say], honestly, through a lot of deep meditation. I had to leave myself to go there. After [I finished filming], I noticed the character stayed with me a little longer. I didn’t actually go out and rape anyone, but my friends were a little scared of me, ha! In my mind, I had created this butt-raping, prison-character.
Riviera: To the outside eye, some of your artistic ventures – the songs you write, the films you produce, the stripping – may seem antithetical to the ethics and values you uphold. Do you, personally, feel that there’s an antithesis between Marcus the person, and Marcus the artist.
Marcus: My persona is similar in the sense that I am fun, I am wild, and I am free – that’s a very real part of me. I’m not a pompous, arrogant character who is always [talking] about consciousness. I’m a constant court jester in life. I look at life like a joke; I’ve had to make sure, that in order to get through [life], I have as much fun as possible. You will see in my music, on my website, and on YouTube, that I’m a complete clown. I don’t take myself very seriously, at all.
Riviera: Brave Enough is a commendable, spiritual track, though.
Marcus: Yes, it is. I love that track. I wrote it on a prayer. But, if you notice, [Brave Enough] only has a few thousands of views, on YouTube. Yet, Boss B*tch and Baby it’s On have hundreds of thousands of views. The big difference is, people are more interested in the sexual side of me, which, of course, is a very true side of me. I may have all of this consciousness, but put the right [woman] in front of me, and she will get [sex]. I am an organic human being, so, I don’t have any apologies about that side of myself.
Riviera: You’re a rather spiritual, free-spirited person. How does your belief-system influence your artistic decisions?
Marcus: I tend to write songs based upon absolute truth in my life. Being that I’m highly conscious, spiritual and explorative, it would automatically be assumed by people that I would be writing songs like Brave Enough, and that would be my only type of songwriting genre. But I’m a very sexual person. I have a wife and girlfriend, and I’m very honest to both of them and they’re both very supportive of me. There’s nothing I can do about that other than accept the fact that I have to love two people and two people have to love me. You’ll see both my wife and my girlfriend, who is also the mother of my child, in the Baby It’s On video. To some degree, people from the western culture would think that I’m crazy, a complete pimp, or disrespectful to women, but the reality is they’re both goddesses to me, and I love them both very much. So, some of my records are about sexuality, others are about my true life story, in terms of that struggle.
Riviera: Let’s elaborate on your life story: you’ve alluded to having a tumultuous childhood. What comes to mind when you think about that period of your life?
Marcus: Honestly, I see [my childhood] as a training ground for what was to come. Most children are given this warped perspective that the world is going to be bright and rosy – you can’t smoke marijuana around children, you can’t have sex around children – and, yet, what are you setting those children up for? Delusion. When [children] get in to the real world they’ll see how sexual it is, how rough it is, and how cut throat business is. If you haven’t shown that child, from day one, what environment they’re going in to, then you’re throwing them to the wolves. I was given an environment as if I was, literally, like a king of Sparta. It opened my eyes, very young, to how crazy this world was and how difficult it was going to be. I became very savvy, very strong, and very streetwise. From aged nine, I was travelling alone, back and forth, across the Atlantic Ocean. I started to learn how big Earth was and how different cultures operated – that helped with the abuse I was suffering, to some degree, from my parents’ dysfunction. By the time I reached 15, I was the British Taekwondo Champion. My desire to live became very martial: I believe in peace, love and unity, but I don’t believe in wandering around like Gandhi, Jesus or Martin Luther King did, and getting killed by violent people, just because you stand for peace.
Riviera: You’ve said previously that self-help books are a cheap education. To infer, then, name some self-help book-titles that you would recommend to others.
Marcus: Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, is one you have to read. Anything [written] by Tony Robbins, too.The best thing to do is follow your own intuition. I go in to a self-help aisle [at a bookstore], or go on to YouTube, and start subscribing to the titles that pull me in that direction. Type positive outlooks on YouTube, press play, and see what author you get. You can be surprised that there are so many incredible, different [discourses] that make you step into a different schooling.
Riviera: You said in an interview, and I quote: “Ultimately I am on the pathway towards heroic qualities, that’s what inspires me – heroic and divine qualities.” Have you reached your destination, yet?
Marcus: With every single week or month that goes by, I can always look at myself and go, wow, you’ve reached another landmark. I make sure to continue making progress, being brave and praying, in a world where I see a lot of cowardice and evil – I make sure not be a part of that. You have to be Neo. Neo in The Matrix is the best example of today’s superhero: he can fly, he can fight, and he can defend himself. Moreover, he’s a master of the mind.
When questioned about his raison d’être, Marcus says: –
“Sometimes I wonder why I’m even alive. Why am I on this planet? It doesn’t make sense to me. This planet does not function anywhere near where my consciousness is at. Sometimes I think I’m just here to almost function like Starman,” [the protagonist of the 1984 film, Starman]. I’m like a spirit working on planet Earth, undercover for God – that’s pretty much it.”
To infer, then: on a personal note, Marcus is a sincere, humble and valiant maverick. And, if he is working undercover for God, then rest assured, planet Earth is in safe hands, indeed – namaste.
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