'It's very much a movie where you're living inside your car,' says Patrick Fabian on upcoming movie 'DriverX'
Patrick Fabian reveals why he chose to do 'DriverX,' what it's like to drive around in an Uber all day, and if he would consider becoming a rideshare driver himself someday.
If you run into actor Patrick Fabian on the street, be sure to stop and say hello because he will most definitely treat you as if you're a long lost friend. I had the opportunity to interview the 53-year-old — who you may recognize best from his recurring role as Howard Hamlin on 'Breaking Bad' spinoff 'Better Call Saul' — about his upcoming movie 'DriverX,' as well as BCS, and he oozes charisma. But to just talk about 'BCS' or 'DriverX' would be doing a disservice to the veteran's work and accomplishments in the industry. Besides portraying the bigwig lawyer and so-called secondary antagonist in the popular AMC drama, Patrick has embraced varying roles in other popular series such as 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'The Newsroom,' 'Desperate Housewives,' '24,' 'Lucifer,' and more.
And while television has been the bulk of his career, he's also turned out for the big screen, most popularly as the Exorcist in the low-budget horror film 'The Last Exorcism.' It went on to gross over $70 million worldwide on a $1.3 million budget and earned widespread critical praise. The film would also see him win the Best Actor at the Sitges International Film Festival, as well as the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in 2010.
Now, the actor is back with another low-budget feature that looks incredibly promising, with fans and critics alike fawning over it before its slated worldwide release on November 30. 'DriverX' sees Patrick star as Leonard Moore, a 50-something stay-at-home dad in Los Angeles who is desperate to find a job and signs up to drive for popular rideshare company DriverX, leading to problems with wife Dawn (Tanya Clarke). The film follows Leonard as he navigates Los Angeles' late-night, Tinder-fueled party scene as his more traditional inclinations get slowly used to the new technology and the young millennials he drives around, and to hear the 53-year-old say it, the story hit a "sweet spot" for him.
After we exchanged pleasantries — and Patrick courteously and profusely thanks me for staying up late to talk to him — I get down to brass tacks. What was it about 'DriverX' that appealed to him and made him take up a role that's admittedly a little left-field? "So, [like Leonard] I'm a middle-aged guy too, and I realized my music is now considered 'classic,'" he says. "You know, I've got children and all the trappings of middle age have been visited upon me — houses, wives, and kids — and you want to figure out how you fit into the world and drive around to deal with somebody who no longer fits into the world right?"
"He owns a record store," he continues, "he owns a record store at exactly the wrong time in history. So, that goes belly up and he's forced to drive with Uber in Los Angeles in order to save his marriage and make ends meet, you know. And what's in the backseat of an Uber in Los Angeles are young people and new music and new sexual mores, and what not." The actor adds how he related to it very much and had a great time doing it because 'DriverX' was a "fish out of water story" or a "coming of age story."
According to the initial reviews, relatability is one of the driving forces of the movie and viewers have felt engaged with the characters and their struggle. Its also been described as "voyeuristic" and as an accurate representation of the discrepancies between middle-aged and millennial culture and the conflicts of culture and generation. But how accurately does it portray the life of a rideshare driver?
"You know what, what we have not made is some sort of extraordinary, one wild night kind of movie, where the most incredible things happen, know what I mean?" he reveals after an extended radio silence. "It's much more true to the bone, much more ordinary when it comes to that. But the ordinary is extraordinary. You've got lots of drunk people and being in your car, which I think any rideshare driver can attest to, there's that weird thing of people feeling the ability to say things and confess things that maybe they wouldn't ordinarily."
"Also, it's a grind," he says. "It's having people in your personal space. Like, in an old-time cab, there was a sense of like, that was your office. But you know, when you drive with Uber, you're driving your car. So, I think there's a real sense of letting people into your home one ride at a time."
'DriverX' is written and directed by Henry Barrial and is largely based on experiences he had while he was a rideshare driver himself. Mark Stolaroff, a producer for the feature, said that the idea for the movie was born after Barrial would call him late at night and tell him about the wild things that had just unfolded in his car. It would explain why viewers say it felt authentic and honest and was more of a documentary than a film. Patrick divulges that the project was a "very personal story" for Barrial.
"[Leonard] is very much his role," the actor explains. "I mean, 'DriverX' is his story and I'm just playing him. So, the Uber rides are all based on actual rides that he had. Some of the dialogue is literally lifted from people who said certain things. So, this is very much an expression of what it feels like to drive."
"I also do all the driving in the film," he adds. "It's a low-budget film, so we didn't have a trailer for the car or a green screen going on and I'm actually driving the car."
I'd read how, to present the movie primarily from the perspective of the passenger, the movie had been shot from the back seat of the car. But Patrick corrects me and says that isn't the case. "It's shot from a whole bunch of different points of view," he states. "We had our cameramen sitting in the passenger seat. We had our cameramen sitting in the back seat. We had cameras rigged to the hood of the car, on the side of the car. So, it covers all perspectives."
"What it does not look like though," he continues, "is over in the States we have a show called taxi cab confessions where there's a fixed camera above the rearview mirror. It doesn't look like that at all. It's very much a movie where you're living inside your car."
The character of Leonard offers a stark contrast to that of Howard Hamlin. Where Leonard is described as a light-hearted family man who is genuine in his intentions, Howard is someone who is much more somber and is often the purveyor of bad news in BCS. I asked if it was a pleasant change to play someone who was such a polar opposite to arguably his most famous character, and the 53-year-old replied in the affirmative. "Well, it was nice not to have to wear a suit all the time, I can tell you that," he jokes. "I got to wear more casual clothing! But as you can see in the movie, I do wear a very distinctive blue jacket at one point in the film. So my handle, indigo blue, is still following me wherever I go."
Considering he spent so much time in the car driving around Los Angeles, would he ever take up the job if it came down to it? "Well, you know what, I will say this, I got good at driving, that's for sure!" he laughs. "I got to know Los Angeles even better than I already knew it with the driving, but in terms of doing it — and I think any rideshare driver will attest to this — it's a grind."
"I mean, I was driving eight hours a day and that's a lot and it can really get to you," he continues. "You sort of get very meditative in the driving, right? Thankfully, acting is working out for me at the moment and I don't have to drive an Uber, but it's good to know I probably could if I need to!"
'DriverX' opens worldwide on November 30 in New York and Los Angeles and will also be available for viewing on iTunes and Amazon on the same day.
Watch the trailer for 'DriverX' here: