Exclusive Interview: Mark Patton
Nightmare fans know Mark Patton best from his starring role as Jesse Walsh in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Since appearing in the horror franchise’s first film sequel, Patton made sporadic appearances in other projects and then left Hollywood altogether. Now, after many years out of the limelight, his resurgence is underway with his upcoming project There Is No Jesse and a role in The Night Project.
Patton took some time out of his very busy schedule to take part in a quick interview here at the Nightmare on Elm Street Companion. Interview questions were collected from fans and the best of the bunch were submitted to Patton. Read on to discover what Patton thinks about his role in the second Nightmare, what his horror tastes are, and what he really thinks about co-star Robert Englund.
NOES Companion: Tell us a little about your background. What made you want to be in the entertainment industry?
Mark Patton: Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and 2nd of four Children. First serious acting role was Alan Strang in Equus. I have made over 100 television commercials for almost every product in the world: Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds, Burger King, etc. My favorite: I was the spokesman for Nestles Chocolate in Japan for two years. I always enjoyed acting. After high school I moved to New York City to study acting and began trying to make a go of it. I appeared on General Hospital, Hotel, and many other television shows. I also appeared on stage Off-Broadway and on Broadway for many years.
How did your involvement in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge come about?
After appearing on Broadway in Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean with Cher, Sandy Dennis, Kathy Bates and Karen Black, we filmed the movie and I took my first trip to Los Angeles. At that time I tested for the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Were you a fan of the horror genre before auditioning for Nightmare 2? How did your participation in Nightmare 2 alter any preconceived notions you had about horror films?
My horror taste was pretty highbrow, for example Straw Dogs. Also all the movies of Vincent Price, and I loved Carrie. When I auditioned and was offered the role of Jesse Walsh in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, I had very little time to prepare for the film and we began shooting about one week after I signed the contract.
The second Nightmare film is somewhat controversial among fans because of its story elements and perceived gay subtext. What is your opinion about the film and its story? Anything you would have changed?
As most of you know Nightmare 2 was at one point called “The Homo Nightmare,” so I had to discuss this a lot. If you are a fan of Never Sleep Again, I believe that conversation is one of the highlights of the documentary. I am quite proud of Jesse and the film. As you know, it has been 25 years and the conversation is still ongoing. I know that many people who originally did not care for it have become “born again” Jesse fans. I love to have a panel and have people say, “Jesse changed my life.” If you notice: Freddy is a very menacing guy. The only person he is really seductive towards or gentle with is Jesse. He kills everyone who is attracted to me, so this conversation can be taken in many directions. Go to my Facebook page and you will hear all the fans’ theories. At this point, I would change nothing, although I would like to make my own version of Nightmare 2. Trust me, it would be scary and twisted, and the fashion would be fantastic!
Do you recall any scenes filmed that did not make the final cut?
No, but I know the bird should have flown away. Strangely, if it would have been filmed differently you would have had a fantastic take off on The Birds. I mean, my god, you had Hope Lange, a total blond ice goddess from the ’50s!
How was it working with Robert Englund and Kim Myers?
Loved Robert and loved Kim Myers. I believe both are fantastic actors. Kim and I travel together quite a bit and I just adore her; she and I worked very well together. Robert was a total bastard (just kidding). I am on the record as saying I believe Robert is one of the best character actors of his generation. I hope that someone, somewhere has the brains to give him a fantastic part in a comedy.
In your opinion, which scene captures the Jesse character most accurately?
Without a question: the transformation and killing in Grady’s room—completely proud of that scene as it stands. I think you see it; all of the colors are right there.
Director Jack Sholder comes across as less than enthusiastic about his involvement with the film in interviews. How was Jack to work with on the set? Was he a positive force behind the production?
I believe Jack Sholder is embarrassed about his association with A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. He was so often compared to Wes Craven in a less than kind way. I understand that, but I would just never speak about anything but the positive things in that regard. I have issues with the film and the way it was talked about, but I will take responsibility for my work. I did the best I could. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is an excellent genre film from the 1980s. [It is from] one of the most, if not the most, famous film franchises in the world. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.
What can you tell us about the made for TV movie Have You Tried Talking to Patty from 1986? Several other Nightmare cast members were supposedly a part of that movie, too; however, it has been difficult finding confirmation of its existence. Do you know if it ever aired?
Yes, Have You Tried Talking to Patty aired and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy.
Why did you decide to leave the entrainment industry?
I left because I did not believe I was strong enough to withstand the constant attention on my private life—I was very aware of the homophobia and hypocrisy of Hollywood. I am older now of course and have seen how the world works. I now try to be a positive role model for people who are oppressed or frightened. There are still moments when I say to myself, Why open yourself up to people who you do not know? I believe there is a reason—not sure what it is—but here I am.
Out of all of your film and television roles, which has been your favorite?
Your upcoming project There Is No Jesse sounds promising. What is this about? Any other new projects we can anticipate in the near future?
I will keep you in waiting regarding There Is No Jesse, so I can speak with you again. I begin filming The Night Project in Berlin this fall.
We would like to thank Mark for his time, and the fans for their great questions! Stay tuned for more about Mark Patton and his upcoming Nightmare-related project, There Is No Jesse.