Viewers may be most familiar with Patrick Fischler as the insult-prone comedian Jimmy Barrett on AMC’s “Mad Men,” but the Tisch School of the Arts graduate has been up to a lot more than just berating Don Draper. In addition to acting, Fischler has recently moved from working only in front of the camera. Fischler and his wife, Lauren Bowles, recently debuted their short film “The Test” at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
The film revolves around a couple taking a pregnancy test at a major turning point in their lives.
“You know, it really just came to me,” Fischler said of the idea for the film. “I’m not kidding. It is kind of how I get ideas.”
Both Fischler and Bowles have such illustrious careers in the industry — Fischler in “Lost,” “Mulholland Drive” and “Speed,” and Bowles in “Ghost World,” “Seinfeld” and “Arrested Development” — that fans may be surprised by their foray into the short film format. But Fischler explained that the creative control they had over the production process enticed them.
“I love being an actor,” he said. “But really the one thing I will say is that you get hired, and you get told where to go and told what to do. I love that, but at a certain point it becomes this urge for us to just create our own thing.”
Fischler explained that the couple worked so well together while making a short was because of everything they learned on television and film sets.
“You learn a lot,” he said. “You watch all these people work, and you pick their best traits and you apply them to your own work.”
The actor’s dedication to watching is admirable, especially considering it is becoming a dying practice.
“Now we can just sit with our iPhones and surf the web [while on set], but back in the day we couldn’t do that,” he said. “That is important to me when I’m on set. I really like to watch people doing their job.”
Fischler also reminisced about his time at NYU, where he met his future wife when he was a fresh- man. But Fischler took more than his spouse away from his time at NYU — he also had advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers of his alma mater.
“Number one, don’t give up,” Fischler said. “Number two, if there’s something else you love to do, then do that.”
This strict advice can, and should, only come from one of the most versatile actors in the business. As Fischler has taken on a number of unique roles during his career, the question of how he can balance such varied roles is raised.
“I can’t imagine it any other way,” he said. “I don’t want to get stuck in playing the same thing. Every time I get a job, I want to look at it and think how it could be different from the last thing I did. Not everything I can do can be different, but I’m always willing to try.”
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 13 print edition. Ishan Seth is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]