Patrick Muldoon speaks about his leading role opposite Bruce Willis in "Deadlock" | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, December 9th, 2023  

Patrick Muldoon on “Deadlock”

Learning From Bruce

Nov 29, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Patrick Muldoon is a well-established actor in Hollywood with scores of credits to his name in both television and film, a man with the sort of enviable longevity in the business that so few achieve. Given his current role filming with Liam Neeson in Barcelona for a movie based on detective Philip Marlowe, he’s not going to be hurting for work anytime soon. Still he says he was not quite ready for the experience of being on set with Bruce Willis when filming his latest release, Deadlock, a new action-thriller due to release in theaters this weekend.

That’s not to say that Muldoon had not prepared. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s just that there’s nothing that can prepare an actor entirely for the sort of gravity that surrounds Hollywood’s most accomplished. There’s a savvy and simplicity at work when filming with Willis, an unexpected learning curve even for someone who’s been acting regularly for over 30 years. Muldoon soaks up those sorts of experiences, since he says there’s “no finish line” when it comes to getting better at his craft.

We recently sat down with Muldoon to hear more about Deadlock and the challenges of making an action film.

You’ve got an early history with family entertainment and some dramatic/soap stuff but lately you’ve been doing more action-oriented films, including Deadlock. How has that turn been?

There’s no finish line in learning with this stuff. Y’know, there was a time where I was doing a lot of the family movies, but before that, it was more soapy stuff. Really what the family movies allowed me to do that allowed me to channel my love of the old Cary Grant screwball comedies. There’s something, especially with the Christmas stuff, that gives you space to do that stuff—to get into the comedy and humor. Before I had that family/comedy run, it was more serious stuff and soapy stuff. Now it’s headed back the other way and I’m able to incorporate the humor, hopefully, into the action stuff.

In getting ready for this, a real treat was that I watched all the Die Hards. What a treat, right? I thought, “Why do we love these movies so much?” It’s because Bruce is funny. There are things exploding but he’s hilarious, even in personal moments with himself. I think we love Bruce because there’s something in him that he’s having a good time as well, even with the circumstances. He brings humor and there’s fun in it.

In all this pinching yourself you do when you get to make a movie with Bruce Willis, one of the guys for me that I’d say “I’d love to do that someday,” I wanted to make sure that we didn’t do a formulaic action movie with no humor. The cool thing was that everybody else was on board to do the same thing. You know when you get to Bruce’s scenes, he’s going to bring it, especially as a bad guy. So I just wanted to weave the humor into the action like Die Hard or the Lethal Weapon series. It’s the one-upsmanship. Hopefully we got that in. I think we were all on the same page, so if we’re having fun, I think the audience will have fun as well.

If you’ve dreamed of making something with Bruce before, how did the reality meet those expectations? Were they congruent?

They were not congruent. [Laughs]

In what way?

You think what it’s going to be and then with your acting chops, you get into character. Even if it’s Bruce Willis, I’m this character and this is what’s happening and I’m going to walk onto the scene and see what happens. I don’t know what I thought it was going to be, but the cool thing was that he’s very kind but also when they say, “Action!”, he’s on. He’s present like you cannot believe. I came prepared as hell, so I was able to walk in, but there’s something about a pro like that who brings you into the moment. He’s not thinking, “I’m Bruce Willis. He’s in.” That was the surprise. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say there weren’t a couple moments during a camera problem when I had to suppress a smile in the giddy teenager in me.

You’ve worked with several people with that sort of experience or gravity. Do you take home lessons from those opportunities?

That was a big lesson that Bruce Willis, who has done so many movies, was business. There are imaginary circumstances that he’s in and he’s present with you and you’re locked into what’s happening between “Action!” and “Cut!” There’s a simplicity to it with those guys who’ve been around forever. It’s really moment-to-moment work. That’s what they always told us in acting class when you first start out. The people who last are the ones who take it seriously.

You have a martial arts background, right?

Yeah, mixed and all over the place.

Am I safe to assume that really helps when filming these scenes?

Yeah, totally. With the ground fighting stuff over the years, you know how to fall which helps. You’re not taking things on the noggin or the shoulder. You know how to move, so that’s it. It’s easier on the stuntmen, because they’re always martial artists, so they’re not going to sit there and give you some Jean Claude Van Damme demonstration. I come with a lot of decades of that stuff that makes it fun. Bobby Leeman was our stunt coordinator. I’ll do all the fights all day long, but I will not jump off the building with the cable. I won’t. So that’s him with a bad wig on. [Laughs]

Would you say that’s what you’re most proud of from a film like Deadlock or is it something else?

The physical stuff is easy. It’s a kid having fun. It’s a 12-year-old playing war, wherein I get to beat people up and you have a whole team to make you look good. That’s really fun. With this, acting is really easy to do bad, and in a movie like this, if you don’t have humor, I think you’re dead. Imagine Die Hard without any humor. So that was the trick. Hopefully it’ll come through for audiences and they’ll have a fun time, too.

So what else in the pipeline for you that’d like to tell us about?

Well, I’m in Barcelona right now in my hotel. I’m shooting a movie, Marlowe, starring Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger. That’ll be out in 2023 but it’s Liam playing the old Humphrey Bogart character of Philip Marlow. It’s this old classic noir Raymond Chandler character that he’s playing, so I’m out here doing that.


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