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Patrick Wilson's Best Movie And TV Roles To Date

Rarely leading a cinematic adventure as the sole main protagonist, Patrick Wilson still never misses a chance to leave a massively identifiable mark unique to his own talent. Wilson's performances over the life of his career range from extreme and fanatical villainy to completely noble and stoic intensity. The actor always compliments and underscores the prominent themes within a film, demonstrating his mastery of the performance arts.

Throughout Wilson's career, he's built some notable relationships in Hollywood. The most prominent relationship, perhaps, is his enduring partnership with film director James Wan. Appearing in at least five of the filmmaker's personally directed films, and even more that Wan has produced, Wilson and Wan  having a lasting work relationship. Beyond his connections with the horror maestro, Wilson has a rather diverse portfolio. His work extends to the action, thriller, and even drama genres lending credibility to the actor's range. Make no mistake, when Wilson takes over the screen, his magnetism and engagement of the material will hook audiences. To further understand the star power behind Patrick Wilson, let's peruse some of the actor's best characters on screens both small and large.

Josh Lambert (Insidious)

Wilson's professional relationship with James Wan began with the director's horror film, "Insidious." In this film, Wan displayed his uncanny ability to creep and crawl beneath our skin and spark our fears of the hidden and the unknown. Wilson took on the role of Josh Lambert, a family man and father whose son has seemingly fallen into an inexplicable coma. Spirits haunt the Lambert home and Josh must ultimately travel into the spirit realm to retrieve his son. 

Wilson conveys the desperation any parent would experience as he seeks to retrieve his lost child. The actor capably portrayed a father who must stop avoiding his traumatic past in order to protect his family. For audiences, it truly feels like the "rock and the hard place" scenario. IGN's Chris Tilly stated, "Patrick Wilson has a less showy role as the film's doubting Thomas, although he's solid and never-less-than believable, even in the film's more outlandish flights of fancy." While the frights ultimately take center stage, Wilson eventually commands the screen in the third act as he journeys through the spiritual plane. Ultimately, the film was well-received critically and commercially against a small budget, further bolstering Wan's career in horror filmmaking and Wilson's relationship with the director.

Edwin Layton (Midway)

In 2019's "Midway," Patrick Wilson saddles up for a historical drama based on the aerial and naval Battle of Midway during World War II. With Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow") at the helm, a solid cast managed to portray the harrowing feats accomplished by the United States forces in the Pacific Theater. Wilson portrays Lieutenant Commander Edwin Layton, a highly skilled intelligence officer. Edwin Layton, commanding his post, warns top military commanders of the Japanese threat both leading up to Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. Throughout the film, Wilson expertly embodies a man who can see the forest for the trees and must plead with military commanders to make the right decisions. In a review of "Midway," Soren Anderson of The Seattle Times concluded that Wilson was "thoughtful" in his ability to adeptly portray Layton as the capable oracle that the character was meant to be.

Ultimately, "Midway" strove for a well-balanced approach between both sides of the conflict. It was credited for being far more accurate than other Hollywood productions in the past like "Pearl Harbor." To the actor's credit, Wilson aided this accuracy with a sound portrayal of a historical figure.

King Orm / Ocean Master (Aquaman)

Not one to pass up an opportunity to join the world of superheroes and super villains, Patrick Wilson suited up as Aquaman's big bad villain for the hero's first cinematic outing. Helmed by the talented James Wan, it became apparent why Wilson was selected for this role. Wan clearly trusts Wilson's talent, and the actor surely didn't disappoint. As King Orm of Atlantis, the monarch rules with a sense of righteous entitlement — seeking to one day fight those that dwell on dry land for their destruction of the ocean. Wilson brings the gravitas the character deserves as he clashes with his long-lost half-brother, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), over the rights to the throne. While Momoa's Aquaman is positioned as the prodigal son, Orm won't tolerate a threat to his power despite their family connection. Wilson also imbues his villainous avatar with a sense of disgust toward his half-brother for sharing human DNA. The bitterness in Wilson's portrayal is palpable

The film was a rousing success and Wilson capably commanded the screen as a misguided, yet menacing villainous threat to the film's hero. We'll see him return as the Ocean Master in the sequel, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." Perhaps he'll be an ally this time around?

Alex Murphy (The Commuter)

Taking on a supporting role in a cast that also includes his former "Conjuring" costar Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson plays an antagonistic character in the Liam Neeson-led film, "The Commuter." Neeson portrays Michael MacCauley, a retired NYPD officer who now sells insurance for a living. On a train ride home, he's ultimately put to the test and must comply with a shadowy organization's demands or suffer drastic consequences. Patrick Wilson plays the supporting role of Detective Alex Murphy, Michael's old partner from his days in the force. Throughout the film, Michael confides in his former partner. Ultimately, Wilson masks the long-time friend façade well, as Alex happens to be involved with the enemy. Despite his deception, there's tinge of regret in Wilson's voice as his character attempts to force his friend into compliance. 

Liam Neeson plays the expected hero ready to get his hands dirty. However, placing Wilson squarely in the villain category is a disservice to the character and the actor's craft. Alex is a tortured soul simply trying to do what's best for those he cares about, resigning himself to villainous deeds to accomplish this. Wilson's talent shines through while conveying this duality masterfully. "The Commuter" received mixed reviews from critics, but it ultimately wound up being a competent action thriller. 

Ed Warren (The Conjuring)

Once again returning to their horror partnership following "Insidious," Wan and Wilson set out to create one of the most terrifying films in modern cinema. "The Conjuring" tells the real-life tale of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), a pair of demonologists who specialize in the occult. The film covers the real-life case of the Perron family, who were haunted by a dark entity. Ed and Lorraine aided the family in their fight against their supernatural tormenter.

Wilson delivered the goods as a caring and compassionate man who fiercely loved his wife and strove to protect both her and an innocent family from harmful spirits. The Hollywood Reporter's Sheri Linden stated that Wilson "is compelling as a down-to-earth straight arrow who has seen the dark side." The film was made with a modestly low budget of $20 million, but mastered the "less is more" craft of supreme horror experiences. Both Wilson and Farmiga's superb chemistry buoyed the suspense and terror. Now, "The Conjuring" has spanned a sprawling horror universe in which both Wilson and Farmiga reprise their roles as the Warrens.

Lou Solverson (Fargo)

The crime-drama "Fargo" injects a bit of black comedy into the genre, resulting in a product that is ultimately edgy without forgoing a strong character presence. Since the series is an anthology, each new season begins with a completely brand-new — albeit loosely connected — tale. Season 1 introduced us to Lou Solverson, a retired Minnesota State Trooper played by Keith Carradine. Patrick Wilson stepped into the role for Season 2, playing Lou in late '70s.

The role Lou demands a layered approach, as the resilient State Trooper has a lot going on in his life during the '70s. At home, Lou's wife is dying of cancer. Meanwhile, at work, he's taking the lead on a series of murders linked to the Gerhardt crime family. Wilson manages to switch his approach to the character on a dime — certain moments demanded aggression, such as his confrontations with the much-feared killers, while others called for a more subdued attitude of sadness and grief. The actor was praised for his talented performance by critics. Vulture stated, "many of the performances deserve their own stand-alone appreciations, none more so than Wilson's as the young Lou." That review highlighted Wilson's capability of adapting to a style that "syncs up perfectly with Carradine's performance in season one," a synchronization that never feels reduced to a simple impression. Make no mistake, Season 2 of "Fargo" is a well-written thrill. 

Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl (Watchmen)

Before Aquaman, Wilson's first foray into the realm of superheroes began with Zack Snyder's action thriller, "Watchmen." The world of "Watchmen" is rooted in an alternate version of American history thanks to the emergence of superheroes in the 1940s. Set in the '80s, the United States and the Soviet Union are inching towards an explosive thermonuclear war. Wilson's Dan Dreiberg enters the picture when his former vigilante partner, Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), seeks his help while trying to solve the murder of a superhero colleague. 

Wilson's performance highlights a man who longs for the thrill of his younger crime-fighting days before heroes were outlawed. Dan Dreiberg is depicted as a fish out of water, an awkward and lonesome individual without a purpose. Cinemablend's review comments on Wilson's excellent delivery of a person stripped of his true identity of Nite Owl. Once he puts the suit back on, it becomes clear that Dan is at home. According to Cinemablend, "Wilson's performance is indicative of so much of what's going on in this movie, more than it seems and often not what it appears to be." "Watchmen" was a major step toward dismantling the superhero tropes of the past on the silver screen, and Wilson's Dan Dreiberg played a major role in that theme.

The film garnered mixed to positive reviews with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 65%. "Watchmen" tackles heavy topics surrounding idealism, nationalism, and criminality. Wilson's character has much to contribute regarding all of those subjects.

Arthur O'Dwyer (Bone Tomahawk)

"Bone Tomahawk" blends two unlikely genres: Westerns and horror. It's a harrowing and grisly film that tells the story of a rag-tag group plunging into the darkness to retrieve people kidnapped by a cannibalistic native group. Wilson plays Arthur O'Dwyer, a foreman who sustained a nasty injury to his leg after falling off a roof. His wife, Samatha (Lili Simmons), is among the individuals taken by the group of cannibals. Wilson had quite a task at hand for his performance as Arthur, keeping the appearance of a leg injury as he made his way through the wilderness. The main cast were praised for their performances by critics. IGN remarked in their review that Wilson was "a revelation as a character whose broken leg won't stop him from rescuing the girl he loves."

The film is widely regarded among movie-goers and critics. It's also infamous for some rather horrific and violent imagery. If you haven't see "Bone Tomahawk" and have a weak stomach, tread lightly. However, there's a harrowing tale at the center of this film that will surely captivate you.

Dr. Michael Holt (A Gifted Man)

Patrick Wilson is at home on the big screen, but he has been known to occasionally star in television shows. "A Gifted Man" aired in 2012 and only lasted one season. However, Wilson managed to garner several million viewers with his portrayal of Dr. Michael Holt, a neurosurgeon whose ego often fills the room. The hook of the series, however, is the good doctor's ex-wife. She was killed in a car accident, and her spirit approaches Michael and asks that he continue her work at a free clinic. The series showed promise, as Wilson's character was granted a path for substantial growth. While the character of Dr. Holt was a bit rough around the edges, Wilson still managed to maintain a unique charm about him with a magnetic performance.

"A Gifted Man" garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, but that wasn't enough to keep the series afloat. The ratings remained lower than the network would've liked which led to the series cancellation after just one season. Regardless, fans of Patrick Wilson's work would be doing themselves a disservice by skipping this unique spin on the over-saturated medical drama genre.

Eric Clark (Passengers)

No, this isn't the 2016 film also titled "Passengers" featuring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. This is the 2008 indie film headlined by Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson. 

The movie falls squarely in the thriller category, offering viewers a mystery to solve. "Passengers" is centered around psychotherapist Claire Summers (Hathaway). She has taken on five new clients who happened to be survivors of a recent plane crash. One of those passengers is Eric Clark (Wilson). Eric begins meeting with Claire one-on-one and the two eventually fall for each other. However, nothing is quite as it seems, as both Claire and Eric begin uncovering the truth about the event and their status in the world at large. 

Wilson captures a man who's just turned a new leaf, deciding to live a simpler life following his death-defying experience. Hathaway and Wilson take audiences through a range of emotions as they navigate new territory together. Ultimately, their romance is a bright light surrounding the circumstances that bring them together. 

This indie film only received a limited release in theaters. Critically, it didn't exactly land with film reviewers. Most critics felt the narrative was messy or didn't necessarily deliver in its final moments. Regardless, Hathaway and Wilson still managed to spark an intriguing chemistry, one that ultimately became the heart and soul of "Passengers."

Raoul (The Phantom of the Opera)

Patrick Wilson dons a suit and saber as the dashing Raoul in 2004's "The Phantom of the Opera," based on the hit Broadway musical. Raoul vies the love of Christine Daaé (Emmy Rossum), who was orphaned as a youngster and came of age as an opera performer. The Phantom (Gerard Butler) ultimately becomes possessive of Christine, because he's always been in love with the singer. In a pivotal moment, the Phantom kidnaps Christine but Raoul pursues Christine and her kidnapper. Wilson offers an eloquent and enthusiastic performance, and audiences are treated to his sensational vocal talent in this musically-minded adventure. 

While the film's narrative was sliced and diced by film critics, the performances were often considered highlights. IGN states that Butler and Wilson "are more than successful foils for Rossum's purity, and create a sort of epic love triangle off of which the film's enormous dramatic edge can be further sharpened." 

Agent Lynch (The A-Team)

The A-Team of the 1980s returned in stellar fashion in Joe Carnahan's 2010 action big-screen adaptation. "The A-Team" placed Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, and Sharlto Copley in the roles of Hannibal, Face, B.A. Baracus, and Howling Mad Murdock respectively. The team, of course, needed a sinister villain that could put their extraordinary skills to the test. That villain was none other than Agent Lynch, a CIA Special Activities Division operative played Patrick Wilson. Lynch framed the A-Team by enlisting them in an illicit operation to recover U.S. Treasury plates, entirely to fuel his own greed. The actor doesn't see much screen time until the third act, where his master plan is all laid out on the table. Wilson punctuates his portrayal of Lynch as slightly, and comedically, unhinged, desperate to finish what he started without getting caught.

While the film didn't perform well financially, it still highlights Wilson's capability of true villainy — long before he ruled the seven seas as King Orm.