One of the significant things that occurred after people watched NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, the 2010 documentary about the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, was the reexamination of the series second entry, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE. Since that time, the film’s lead, MARK PATTON, has not only taken to the convention circuit, providing a very visible presence for what many have labeled the gayest horror film ever made, but he has returned to the world of film in such projects as Tommy Faircloth’s FAMILY POSSESSIONS and SCREAM, QUEEN, his much anticipated documentary about how portraying Jesse Walsh has changed his life. In anticipation of his upcoming appearance at the TERROR IN THE AISLES CHRISTMAS, at the Vic Theatre in Chicago on Sunday, December 18th (see link below), I’ve revised a conversation that I had with PATTON a number of years ago. Here, he talked with me about his memories of his NIGHTMARE castmates and the platform that he has created for himself as an activist and humanitarian.
You made A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 over twenty-five years ago and the series is still thriving today. What has been the best part about the NIGHTMARE legacy for you?
MARK PATTON: To be a part of one of the biggest horror franchises in the world is a gift. I am famous but not. I have used my A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 fame for many purposes of which I am proud…HIV awareness, The Trevor Project, issues of bullying. When I put on the glove, people give me a few minutes to speak. I also love the character, Jesse Walsh. I am very proud of him. He and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 have aged well. I have to admit after NEVER SLEEP AGAIN when I started appearing at conventions and film festivals, I felt a bit like Sally Field in SOAP DISH. A day or two of being a movie star is great. I am not sure I would like it as a full time profession.
Can you talk a bit about the family dynamic in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2? Clu Gulager and Hope Lange, whom played Jesse’s parents, were very experienced stage and screen performers. You had some stage and screen work under your belt, but Christie Clark, who played your younger sister, was just starting out. How did you find that you worked together as a quartet?
PATTON: I simply adored Hope Lange. Do you know that the year she shot A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2, she also played in BLUE VELVET? She was, at one time, a world class movie star, yet she had no ego. She was lovely, liked a drink when having her hair done – but she was always a pro. Clu is nuts in a really fantastic and interesting way…just like me. As I age, I think I look more and more like him. Isn’t that odd? Christie was a doll and, of course, turned into one of the most famous soap actresses of all time. As did Martha Byrne, my darling little sister in ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER! She went to work on her soap (AS THE WORLD TURNS) weeks after we finished ANNA and stayed for 25 years! If you have me for an older brother in a film, you are lucky!
The gorgeous Maud Adams also played your mother on episode HOTEL.
PATTON: And she is…for those who don’t know?
PATTON: A Bond girl! I had the best moms in the world: Hope Lange, Tuesday Weld, Sandy Dennis and Dina Merrill. They were all beautiful blondes, so I was thrilled.
Is there something that stands out about these women to you? Was there one quality that they all had in common?
PATTON: They were all survivors. To be a beautiful woman in California and to work past the age of 25 is miraculous. So you have to be a pretty strong broad to do that. I had hot best friends, too. Robert Rusler, George Clooney…
You could pick ‘em!
PATTON: I could!
Speaking of that…The casting director of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2 created a great visual picture with the film’s young leads. Your lightness was a great contrast to Robert Rusler’s swarthiness while Kim Myers balanced you both out with a brighter quality. Do you recall anyone else being considered for the roles of Lisa (Meyers) and Ron (Rusler)?
PATTON: I have known Robert Rusler since he was a kid. He was the first one hired for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 2. I was next and, together, we choose Kim Myers. I do not remember the names of the other two girls for Lisa. We had a blond, a dark headed girl and Kim. There was never any question that it would be Kimmy. She was delightful, perfect really. We all love her a lot!
You, also, appeared in ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER which has science fiction connotations. Can you talk a bit about that project?
PATTON: Actually, ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER is my favorite film -.just for me. My nieces and great nieces know every word. It is a lovely movie that even adults enjoy and it is a way to introduce younger people to information about science and the Holocaust. Actually, someone should remake this movie. It is just great!
Horror lovers often feel outside the norm. Therefore, they often relate to their final girls (and guys) as characters who survive against devastating oppression. As a gay man whom has spoken out about bullying and the discrimination you discovered in your early days in Hollywood, is that something that you can relate to, as well?
PATTON: (Laughs) How much time to you have? I am a great believer in destiny and God having a plan for each one of us. We just do not know what it is. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 was called the gayest horror movie ever made. Still is…I screamed like a girl. Why is it such a huge insult to be compared to a girl? We talk a lot about that in my panels. It destroyed my confidence that I could be perceived as ‘normal’ and thus ended, I thought, my career. But it became a classic and cult favorite. They now call me the first male Scream Queen. I love it! I now get to speak to a group of people who may not get to hear positive stories about GLBT people and HIV, because they think it does not apply to them as Hard Rockin’ Hetro Dudes. I get to represent Gay Horror and GLBT horror fans and I hope I am doing them proud. I used to ask, God why me? I was a very good actor, I could have been something special and the answer came back loud and clear one day. Mark, you are special and I have given you everything that you need to be a good witness of something most gay men did not live though. I gave you a film or two. I gave you a safe place to be ill from HIV AIDS. I gave you a comeback via NEVER SLEEP AGAIN and I gave you a rock to stand on to speak truth to power. When you put that glove on people listen…for a minute! A minute is all you need to save someone the agony of AIDS. I gave you all of this, now use it! I do and trust me I have just begun. You have not seen the last of me. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep or you will miss my fabulous 2nd Act!
Come meet Mark at TERROR IN THE AISLES CHRISTMAS – https://www.facebook.com/events/1334753026558622/. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 will be screened along with two John Carpenter features, THEY LIVE and THE THING. In the spirit of the holiday, donations of food and clothing will be accepted for the homeless and there will be a number of amazing raffles to benefit Vital Bridges, an AIDS organization.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!