Earlier this month, “A Patient Man” released for purchase or rental on VUDU, Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play. The micro-budget dramatic thriller marks “Whose Line is it Anyway?” alum Jonathan Mangum’s first serious venture away from comedy. I got the chance to catch up with the “Let’s Make a Deal” announcer–who plays a grieving man named Tom with vengeance in his heart–and asked him a few questions about “A Patient Man” and his career.
Hello! Up to this point, you’re perhaps best-known for your improv comedy. How were you cast in “A Patient Man”? Is this an intentional effort to make a transition to more dramatic roles?
In Hollywood, unless you’re an A-lister, you get labeled quite often. This isn’t always a bad thing. I want to be thought of when they say, “Who’s the funny guy for this?” However, it is also limiting, in that it’s all they want to see you for. I had known Kevin [Ward], the director, for many years, and when I saw the trailer he shot (to raise money for the feature), I was intrigued. Once I had a chance to read the script, I was amazed at how he was able to make the narrative work–and that the character would be something I almost never get to play. So, I met with him and we talked about the part a lot. I had some dramatic work on film for him to look at, and between that and the recommendation of some other directors, Kevin asked me to do it.
Were there any scenes in “A Patient Man” you had trouble filming? Did you ever find it particularly difficult to act more downtrodden than you normally are?
There was a scene that was tough for me … the boardroom presentation. Normally, this kind of scene is my bread and butter. It read like a comedy scene. I had to work hard to make it not funny. The character Tom isn’t funny in any way, so toning that down was tough. The scene has gotten some laughs when I’ve watched it with an audience, which kinda bummed me out. For me, the goal was to show that the boring sad dude that works in your office building is actually capable of some terrible stuff. Don’t assume things about people. They will surprise you.
Can you name a few of your non-comedic acting inspirations?
Gene Hackman is my favorite. Tim Robbins is someone who I feel like I’m the same type as. Tom Hanks is a great example of a comedian who can do drama. There is a quote from someone famous (who I can’t remember) that if you’re going to be a leading man, keep it subtle–as in, the audience is seeing your face for the whole movie and you don’t want them sick of your mugging after two hours.
According to IMDb, you’re currently shooting a comedy, “WRZ: White Racist Zombies” where you play, well, a white racist zombie. From where did you get your zombie acting technique?
I learned the walk from waking up in the middle of the night and then stepping on my kid’s Legos–which causes you to painfully grunt and stumble into things. That’s actually a movie that I am producing with Aaron Shure (“The Office”), Ben Rock (“Curse of the Blair Witch”) and Wayne Brady (“Whose Line is it Anyway?,” “Let’s Make a Deal”).
In the future, what sorts of roles are you hoping to tackle?
I love being able to go back and forth from comedy to drama. The great thing is, since “A Patient Man,” I’ve gotten opportunities I wouldn’t have had before. Last year, I got to do guests spots on “Chicago Med” and “Baskets,” all from people seeing me in clips from the movie.
Some of the answers have been edited for clarity. “A Patient Man” is now available for rental or purchase on VUDU, Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play.