Patrick Wilson is the kind of actor you probably recognize but can't name. He started out in musical theater on Broadway before breaking big in movies like Phantom of the Opera, The Conjuring series and Aquaman.
You can currently be see Wilson as American code breaker Edwin Layton in the World War II action-drama Midway. The film centers on the Battle of Midway — a battle between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy that marked a turning point in the Pacific Theater after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In order to prepare for his role, Wilson says he found a lot of helpful insight in reading Layton's book, And I Was There.
"I can’t say that I understood all of it when you’re talking about intelligence and ciphers and code-breaking. It’s very intense, but was super helpful in getting a real feel for his passion and his skill set," he notes.
A lot of the information in the film, including Layton's relationship with the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, was taken directly from his book. For Wilson, Layton's view of understanding his role in the greater worldscape is truly a testament to his American pride — especially since his time in Japan was so impactful. He was even fluent in Japanese.
"I think in a strange way that for me shows a real patriot. Yes, you believe in your country, but you also understand your place in the world and you understand the other side," says Wilson.
Part of what made Wilson want to get involved in director Roland Emmerich's passion project was the frank depiction that there are no winners in war. "It think what you see in the film is the other side," he says. "I think that's very, very important."
Lake Effect film contributor Ryan Jay recently reached Wilson by phone in New York to talk about Midway:
Editor's note: Lake Effect film contributor Ryan Jay is a film critic nationally syndicated on radio and can be seen locally on Today’s TMJ4 TV every Friday and Saturday.