Patrick wears a T-shirt by Scotch & Soda.
Patrick Wilson is in the middle of a story about a recent run-in with some screaming female fans in a Koreatown bar, when his phone cuts out. The actor calls back from the airport, where he's on his way to Miami to promote the horror flick Insidious: Chapter 2 -- in theaters now -- and apologizes: apparently an elderly woman had fallen on the escalator. "She's okay, I just had to run over there," he says nonchalantly. Even though the actor insists his fellow travelers did not share the same enthusiasm for him as the Koreatown girls, the sight of an incontestably attractive man rushing to the aid of an elderly woman likely got a few hearts pumping.
For the last 20 years Wilson has made a career out of playing discontented or damaged men with unsuspecting high-school-football-hero good looks. There was the stay-at-home philandering dad in the Oscar-nominated indie Little Children, the To-Catch-a-Predator-style online pedophile in Hard Candy and the latent homosexual Joe Pitt in Angels in America. One of Wilson's most beloved characters is Billy Bigelow, the brutish, tragic lead of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 musical Carousel, whom he played in the national tour of the Tony-winning 1994 Broadway revival. ("I could talk about Carousel for hours..." gushes Wilson.) With these types of roles, his fame was mostly confined to people approaching him to ask, "Aren't you the guy from...?" But this past February things started to change after he played Lena Dunham's love interest on one of the most memorable episodes of the HBO hit Girls. Now Wilson says he has quite a bit more young (and enthusiastic) female devotees. "I have had people come up and want a picture or something, but I've never had people start screaming," he says.
Good thing he's used to the attention. His father is a TV news anchor in South Florida. "A TV anchor in the '70s and '80s was like Ron Burgundy," says Wilson. "He was the most famous guy in the area, so every single time that we went out, without fail, somebody came up to him. They usually would just want to talk to him or shake his hand -- sometimes they had a picture he would autograph. So I sort of grew up with this idea that that's just what you do."
Now his own two young sons are there to witness their father's growing fame. "My oldest is just a die-hard movie fan so he sort of loves it, like, 'Hey they recognize you from a movie!'" Despite the domestic restlessness that burdens many of his characters, Wilson tries to spend as much time as he can with his sons and his wife, the Polish author and actress Dagmara Dominczyk, in the suburbs of New Jersey. Wilson's life seems fairly normal save for stories about working with Al Pacino (Wilson's co-star in Angels in America) and joking tweets to Dunham. "I always figured that I would end up with a house and a yard," Wilson says. He talks about watching movies with his wife ("We'll meet in the middle [and watch] a comedy. You don't really want something gripping or something where you'll want to cry, after dealing with four-year-old kids running around all day."), and going to their neighbors' annual Halloween party. (Last year he and Dominczyk went as Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club.)
Though he says it's nice to get recognized, fame has never been a motivating force for him. "The only reason you want to have any sort of fame is so you can get better parts -- you can just have the pick of everything," he says. "But the fame part of it is nothingness really." And for Wilson, most of those better parts happen to be in the theater. "I've never really been the kind of guy who's been like, 'This is the role that I want. That's the one that's going to be the ultimate role.' It's almost easier with theater--with revivals and historic plays. Hamlet's a great role. Billy in Carousel is a great role, but in films you just don't have that. Are you going to remake Cool Hand Luke? No. And I don't really want to touch that."
In fact, having just wrapped the comedy thriller Stretch, in which he plays a tortured chauffeur, co-starring Chris Pine and Jessica Alba, Wilson's chomping at the bit to get back on Broadway. "This is the longest I've ever gone without doing a musical, and I miss it a lot," he laments. Theater is a big reason he's stayed on the East Coast. "If we lived in L.A. I wouldn't do a Broadway show until my kids were out of the house. It doesn't mean that much to me to do a Broadway play if I'm coming home every night and my kids are in L.A.," he says, about to board the plane. "That's not me."
Stylist: Camille Yvette / Grooming: Jhizet Panosian using Giorgio Armani Beauty at Crosby Carter Management / Photographed at XIX studios.