Greyhound turned Wolverine
2005 graduate shares experience as a professional stuntman and latest role, Wolverine in Marvel Universe Live!
December 2, 2016
When you were young, did you ever pretend to be a superhero?
Armed with extraordinary abilities and a strong moral code, you’d imagine spending your days as a shy high school student or newsroom reporter… but come nightfall, you’d don a bodysuit or cape and be fighting to save the universe from evil.
For Patrick King, ’05, fighting villains is part of a day’s work. As Wolverine in Marvel Universe LIVE!, King joins more than two dozen Marvel superheroes—from Iron Man and Captain America to Spider-Man and the Hulk—on stage to battle classic villains in combat scenarios.
The show, which is currently touring Europe for six months, draws audiences for its combat scenes, high falls, fire burns, motorcycle stunts, and pyrotechnics. Which is why the superheroes are played by professional stunt performers, including King.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., King studied Fine Arts-Theatre at Loyola, where he spent a fair share of his time outside the classroom on stage as a member of the Chimes, Loyola’s all-male acapella group, and several student theatre groups.
King said his performances in plays that featured stage combat and weapons introduced him to the idea of combining acting with athletics and taking live performance to another level.
“I enjoy movement and physicality,” said King, who has also acted in a number of independent films and in television roles, including the forthcoming mini-series Six on the History Channel. “I have always been interested in stunt work, so about two years ago I started training and educating myself in those aspects.”
King spoke with Loyola magazine from England about his work as a professional stunt performer, pursuing his dream of acting, and, of course, what it’s like to fight super villains as a day job.
What’s it like being on tour?
This is my first experience touring with a live stunt show. It has been incredible so far. I am very fortunate to be a part of such an amazing cast, crew, and show. We get to perform as iconic superheros all over Europe. We play some of the biggest arenas and get to entertain thousands of fans.
Do you have any downtime to explore the cities you’re performing in?
Usually we have a few days off to explore the cities we are performing in. We started our tour in the United Kingdom. The first show was in Nottingham, England, and I was able to see Nottingham Castle, Sherwood Forrest, and other local attractions. I’ve been able to climb the Eiffel Tower, walk the Colosseum in Rome, explore castles in Spain, and take in sights in Sweden and Denmark. It’s been an amazing trip!
What’s your favorite role you’ve ever had?
This one. 100%. I’m a huge Marvel Comics fan. I had every X-Men comic, trading card, and action figure growing up. This is a dream come true for me. I get to play Wolverine, one of my all-time favorite characters, and I get to bring him to life in front of thousands of people (plus I get to slice up some bad guys).
What is your dream role?
After Marvel Universe LIVE!, I would love to get involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love performing in movies and TV. My dream role would be to portray a Marvel superhero on television or in a movie.
What’s an audition like? How do you prepare mentally?
For any audition, I prepare as much as I can beforehand. Whether that means learning lines and studying a scene, or learning fight choreography and preparing physically. The most important thing for me is to do my best at all times. So many factors go into being chosen; most of the time, it’s not about how well you did.
Being told no or not getting a job is part of the career. You may be told no 99 times, but it only takes that one other time to make your career. If you work hard and stay focused, that role of a lifetime will come along.
Your career is what some might call high-risk. How do you not get hurt?
The secret to not getting hurt: training and safety. As stunt performers, we train and rehearse as much as possible so we do not get hurt. We are educated on how to perform stunts safely. In regards to Marvel Universe LIVE!, we are doing a six-month European tour, which means our actors are performing these stunts 100 or more times. It is imperative that we do these safely so we can continue to perform night after night. In addition, our crew makes sure that every stunt is checked and keeping us safe is their main priority.
How are live roles different than film or television?
Filmed roles and live shows are very different, and each has their advantages. In a live show, you prepare as much as you can, but you only get one shot to get it right. For filmed roles, you’re able to perform as many times as you need to get the right shot. I really enjoy both, but performing in front of a live, cheering audience is something I will never tire of.
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect is keeping my body ready to perform. We have anywhere from eight to 10 shows per week, sometimes three in a single day. We need to make sure our bodies are healthy and ready to go at all times. Currently, I am at the gym six days per week. Being on tour with Marvel Universe LIVE! is such a huge opportunity. I need to make sure I am in optimal condition to perform and also to stay healthy. This includes stretching and yoga as well.
The most rewarding part of Marvel Universe LIVE! is hearing the crowd react. They gasp, cheer, and shout throughout the show. It’s such a great feeling knowing that you are a part of memories that will last a lifetime.
How has your Jesuit education influenced your work and your path?
During my time at Loyola, professors like Charlie Mitchell, who taught acting classes, and James Bunzli (Ph.D., associate professor of theatre) really helped mold me into both a better actor and a better person. They prepared me for the entertainment world and encouraged me to never give up on my dreams.
I am so very grateful for my Jesuit education. I was taught to be a man for others, and I try every day to be just that. Recently, I have done charity work and other events with The Chive, an organization known for their pay it forward mentality and their service to others in need. They strive to “make the world 10% happier,” and with them I have found a network of amazing human beings looking to make the world a better place.
What do you tell others who are passionate about pursuing a career in acting or stunts?
I wish I knew how much dedication it takes to truly make acting or stunt work a full-time career. I tried working full-time jobs and then acting on the side. That doesn’t work. Like anything else, you have to dedicate your time and energy into making something you love doing into a full-time job.
And don’t give up. It seems silly to say and, I’m sure, to hear. But it’s the truth. You need to educate yourself and train and work hard for what you want. It truly is possible to make this a full-time career. But it doesn’t happen overnight. Work hard, stay focused, and sooner or later… you’re living a dream.