Fan Fest Exclusive: Patrick Gilmore Discusses New Show ‘Travelers’ and Why He’s Passionate About Acting
Science fiction and time travel nerds everywhere are rejoicing today as Travelers makes its debut on Netflix. Travelers follows a group of people with a mission to go back in time to help humanity prepare for its future. The show boasts an excellent cast, including Patrick Gilmore who stars as David Mailer, a social worker tasked with caring for one of the travelers.
Gilmore is no stranger to the world of science fiction. We’ve seen him in films like 2012 as well as shows like SGU Stargate Universe. And now on Travelers, he’s stepping into a new and exciting realm of the sci-fi genre.
I recently spoke with Gilmore about the show:
TARA MARTINEZ: Travelers is coming to Netflix on the 23rd. What can you tell me about the series?
PATRICK GILMORE: Travelers is about a group of travelers from the future, arriving from 400 years from now to right what went wrong in order to sustain a better future for humanity. They get their messages, their orders from the omnipresent director who we haven’t met yet. The series takes place in our time and it’s both science fiction in how are we going to fix the future ourselves and also about these people from a different planet, almost literally, trying to fit in in our time, and trying to make sense of their mission and their place in the world and the mission. It’s very vague, but it’s so chancy to let spoilers fly, so I’m choosing my words carefully.
TM: You play David Mailer, a social worker who cares for a traveler. How would you describe David and his journey on the show so far without being too spoilery?
PG: David, he’s an optimist and he’s a good guy who leads a bit of a sheltered life, but has dedicated his life to helping people get their second chance by being a social social worker, which fits perfectly with the theme of the show because here are a group of travelers trying to give humanity a second chance. Now David’s arc, it’s a matter of, I guess—I likened it to the Book of Job in the Bible, although not in such a grandiose fashion, but when you take somebody who has this much faith in humanity and in a character like Marcy who is the person he takes care of and tests the limits of his suspension of disbelief, I guess, and tests his faith in humanity and giving people the benefit of the doubt—so in a way, David’s kind of like that audience view. He’s looking at it, sort of, from the outside as is the audience.
TM: What about the project initially drew you in?
PG: The initial hook for me to get excited about auditioning for it was Brad Wright who created the show. I met Brad, man—what year is it? 2016, so I guess I met Brad about eight years ago; 2009 maybe? Seven years ago—when I auditioned for Stargate Universe and Brad, you know, he was a big supporter of me in sticking around Stargate for two years, and then that show when it finished, the last time I saw Brad we were just crossing paths and I asked him what he was going to be working on and he said, ‘Well, I’ve got a few projects in mind. There’s one that I’ve got you in mind for.’ I mean, you hear that all the time in the industry and you say thank you and, ‘Oh, that’s great. Let me know.’ But it never happens. And then, almost a year ago, I got the audition for it and Brad happened to bump into me in the parking lot before I went in and said that he wrote the role for me so, you know, [laughs] no pressure. He’s like, ‘I’ll see you in there in five minutes!’ And I’d go to war with Brad anytime. He has a way of writing dialogue which is a very hard thing to do, but he has a way of doing it in such a way that’s so real and it’s so, I don’t know, I can—I speak Brad’s language and so I love saying his words. That drew me to it first. But definitely, I am a huge time travel nerd. I love time travel.
TM: How is the show’s approach to time travel new and different?
PG: Yeah, it is a different style of time travel show because it doesn’t quite rely on the, ‘Well, how could you possibly know that?!’ kind of trope that we see in a lot of, you know, playing to the—like a wink and a nod to the audience. It doesn’t do that. It doesn’t insult our intelligence. It gets dark; it gets gritty; it gets real. And that’s the only way I can, kind of, paint the show is its realism. You’re going to get those moments of sci-fi where it’s, whether it’s technology or, you know, those moments of satisfaction in time travel shows where you do get a glimpse of what the future might hold. But we’re not going to spoon feed it to you and we’re going to show—the way I put it is it’s less about the mission than it is about the people, the humanity, the reason for the mission which is humanity. Why are we saving humanity? It sounds so heavy, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s the type of show that is just built for binge watching.
TM: Now, you’re back for season two of You Me Her. What can you tell me about your character’s storyline this coming season?
PG: Well, You Me Her was a total surprise because in the first season I did only two or three episodes. And they have such fun on that and the writing is so fun and the way they film it is so collaborative that they let me, kind of, just be a bit of a goofball. So, I had no idea that season two was happening until a week before I was called to film, and we block shoot it so I did all my episodes in two days, and I think maybe I’m in six episodes. I have no idea how many episodes I’m in. I’m a bartender named Shaun who sticks his nose in other people’s business and manages to make things work, and loves to hear himself talk and dispense advice. So, I’m like the color commentator. The show rests heavily on Greg and Priscilla and the rest of the cast and I’m just the color commentator. I pop in just to [laughs[ screw things up. They gave me such freedom and it works so well. It was a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to that. And there’s a pickup for season three so I’d love to come back and play with them again.
TM: You’ve been acting for quite a while. What do you love most about being actor? Or what is it about acting that keeps you in it?
PG: Acting is a gambling addiction. I don’t know how else to put it. I’m not addicted to anything except for maybe Starbucks, but it’s that idea that after let down after let down and struggling and the thick skin, and all those horror stories you hear about acting, it gets to that point where you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and thinking of cashing it all in. And then you get a role or you get a moment on set, and it can take as little as a two minute scene where everything clicks, your acting partner and you get completely transported—this sounds so ridiculous, but it’s the only way I can describe it—and you feel like you’re flying. And they yell cut and you kind of step back and go, ‘Whoa! That was awesome!’ and you’re addicted again. You’re just like, ‘Oh God, I’m in. I’m in it!’
I remember I had a really rough year before Stargate Universe and I was working construction, in fact, just to pay the bills, a demo crew, where the guy running the demo crew—I’m getting a little off track here, but he was my boss because he had a valid driver’s license. That’s the only reason and I was an idiot, even though I had the college degree, but I got the job because A, I needed the money, and B, somebody was caught doing drugs on the construction site and was fired, so they had this opening. And the very first day of work, I broke my arm but I needed the money so I came home that day and I duct-taped my arm the next morning and went back to work to finish the week because that’s how dark it was. And I was just like, ‘What am I doing?’ And then I got a role in a movie called 2012 and there were moments in that were so fun and so exhilarating that any thought of me quitting the industry, broken arm and all, went away. It’s an addiction. It’s a gambling addiction. You’re living for that next high of a great script or an inspiring acting partner. I think that’s why I’m still in it. I’m looking for that next high. It sounds so gross.
TM: Well, I think if you’re passionate about something, it’s like that for anybody.
PG: Yeah. I’ll tell you the best acting high, though, is theater and the unfortunate part of that is you can’t necessarily make a living off of theater. So, I think if you talk to any actor, they’d be in theater if they made the same money. But I’ve got a mortgage.
TM: So, in your experience, what’s the difference between theater and working on TV or in film?
PG: Theater is more immersive. You can liken it to this: in acting, you get, at most, a five minute take, then they yell cut and you go back and you’re out of it for about half an hour, and then you’re back into it. And theater is like an hour-long take, or two hour-long takes in a night. It’s such a long, immersive experience that you can’t help but get completely lost in that world because you have to live in it for an hour or two. In film and television, it’s a lot tougher because you have to come in and out of that universe multiple times in such short spurts that it’s a real struggle and challenge to stay in that world. But that was the biggest struggle for me when I first got into film and television, having started in theater, but you get used to it. And I did a play reading about two weeks ago for the first time in maybe 10 years, and I mean, like I said, it’s like an hour-long take. By the end of it, I was in tears; it was beautiful. That’s the thing you don’t get, those beautiful moments in film and television. You’ve got to find the right dialogue; you’ve got to find the right acting or actors; and [laughs] this sounds like a sales pitch, but I have those moments on a daily basis in Travelers. The script, you know, my dialogue was written in my voice because Brad wrote it for me and he cast such fun, diverse actors that every day they yell cut and I go, ‘Whew! Let’s do that again; that was fun!’
Be sure to catch Travelers which is now available to stream on Netflix. For more information about Patrick Gilmore, check him out on Twitter at @PatrickGilmore.