Six auditions later, Dave Patten wins the part


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And middle children think they have it rough.

In "Delivery Man," Philadelphia native Dave Patten plays Adam, one of 533 biological children of a sperm donor known as Starbuck. He is part of a smaller subset of 142 suing to learn Starbuck's real name -- David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) -- and the only one busking in Central Park.

Tucked out of sight are hand warmers weighing down his pockets and helping to combat the early mornings, chill of October and November 2012 and ravages of Hurricane Sandy. He's not complaining, not when he logged 25 days on a job that enabled him to move to Los Angeles in January, sing and play the guitar on screen, and appear alongside Mr. Vaughn.

Mr. Patten auditioned six times for the role, but after a month of not hearing anything, assumed he did not get the gig. But his agent, who normally spoke to him during business hours from his office, called on his cell phone at 1 a.m. with the good word: "Bro, greatest news ever! You got the part."

Mr. Patten, who writes and produces his own music and has topped 60 million page views on YouTube with videos, was asked to perform covers of some well-known tunes. "We did Van Morrison songs, which is awesome. They had to get clearance from Van. They made me demo my songs first, so I'm pretty sure Van heard my songs ... which is mind-blowingly awesome because I'm a huge classic rock junkie."

His high school band specialized in classic rock such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Allman Brothers Band. Back then, he played drums, but he later taught himself guitar, piano, bass, trumpet, trombone and cello and today says his music has a singer-songwriter base with roots in rock 'n' roll and a little bit of hip-hop.

The son of a chemical engineer-father and chemist-mother, he was an electrical engineering major at Penn State University before transferring to Temple University to study film and minor in math.

He's the rare artist not afraid to sing the praises of solving a differential equation even as he's promoting "Delivery Man" along with his first novel ("Run of the Mill") and touring, with stops in venues such as the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square.

He sat down for a leisurely chat in the lobby of the Sheraton Station Square Hotel the morning of that Pittsburgh show in mid-October. He recalled 3 a.m. subway trips, guitar in hand, to make a 4 a.m. call time for the movie, nights in which the star joined "the kids" for beer and how Mr. Vaughn proved to be exactly as he is on screen, which is often hilarious.

This movie isn't strictly a comedy and Mr. Patten said, "I could see him off to the side, homing in on what he had to do, a lot of the scenes are pretty powerful stuff." For his part, the musician learned that he could show up ready for a day's work, only to face new pages and lines of dialogue. "My confidence comes from preparation," but he had to be ready for anything.

And that included seeing a rough cut months ago in which he thought he was terrible. "Oh no. What have I done? My acting career is over before it even started," he feared.

Weeks later, he was invited to a preview in Philadelphia with his parents and found a different movie, with the score intact and the editing final. "I was blown away. It was a beautiful movie, whether I'm in it or not."

With six albums to his credit and, now, one book and one big-studio movie, friends sometimes ask music or movies? "I'm never going to choose," he says, and in an ideal year he would cut an album, go on tour and shoot a movie.

"And you can make it happen. Everything is so project by project." As he just proved.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.

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