Patrick Fabian, the Los Angeles-based actor who plays slick lawyer Howard Hamlin in AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” loves working in Louisiana.
Fabian shot the as yet unreleased teen-horror-comedy “Eat, Brains, Love” in Baton Rouge in late 2017. He describes the film as funny, bloody and a potential cult classic.
“The food was so great,” Fabian said of being in Baton Rouge. “I quickly got fat eating beautiful fried fish, po-boys and stuff like that every night.”
Fabian previously shot “The Last Exorcism” in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. In the 2010 horror film, he plays Rev. Cotton Marcus, an evangelical minister who conducts exorcisms. Baton Rouge native Louis Herthum co-stars in “The Last Exorcism” as a farmer who believes his daughter is possessed.
“We had a great time shooting ‘Last Exorcism’ there,” Fabian said. “Louis is a great guy. We see each other out here all the time. The acting world is a company town. Louis and I find ourselves in waiting rooms together when we’re looking for jobs.”
“DriverX,” a new film Fabian made in Los Angeles, is showing Saturday at the Manship Theatre.
Written and directed by Henry Barrial, Fabian’s beach volleyball friend of many years, “DriverX” follows Leonard Moore, a middle-aged man caught in the turbulence of technological disruption.
Leonard, driven by the need to pay the mortgage on the house he shares with his working wife and their two young children, begins driving for an Uber-like rideshare service. He takes the job after his passion, a record store prophetically named The Last Record Store, goes out of business.
Of course, Leonard’s lost business is a fictional example of the many careers that have and will continue to disappear, Fabian said. “Occupations people dreamed of and planned for their participation in society have been completely upended,” he said. “Entire industries have been rendered worthless. Book stores, music stores. Just gutted.”
When Leonard experiences his displacement in “DriverX,” he naturally questions his identity, purpose and place in the world.
“It makes people think, ‘Well, who am I?’ ” Fabian said. “They wonder what value they have when their knowledge and expertise no longer have value.”
The uncertainty found in today’s “gig” economy isn’t new to Fabian. Despite his 26 years of TV and film credits, doubt about getting that next acting never leaves him.
“Any actor will tell you, as soon as they get a job, there’s that fleeting moment of, ‘Yeah, I got a job! I’m so excited.’ But then they immediately, think, ‘Oh, it’s going to end. What am I going to do next?’ ”
“DriverX” gains authenticity from writer-director Barrial’s work as an Uber driver. After financing for a horror film he developed through much of 2014 fell through, he got behind the wheel. Shortly after Barrial began driving, however, he phoned his producer partner, Mark Stolaroff, with an idea. His experiences as an unemployed middle-aged man who drives for Uber to support his family could be a film.
“Henry and I are both on the wrong side of 50,” Fabian said. “And we’re both freelance artists with two kids and mortgages. All of our anxieties, hopes and dreams are similar. We talked a bunch and then Henry went away to write the script. When I got it, it rang so true.”
“DriverX” draws upon some of Fabian’s experiences as well. The scene in which Leonard sells his record collection is one example.
“I wasn’t the only middle-aged guy,” Fabian said, “who went into a record store with his CD collection, thinking he could get thousands of dollars for it, but then finding out CDs were only good as coasters. It’s a right of passage to discover that, all of a sudden, the music you grew up with is on the classic-rock station.”
Fortunately, Fabian’s acting career has gone much better than Leonard’s record store business. His many dozens of TV credits include recurring roles in “Code Black,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Big Love” and “Desperate Housewives.” He’s had guest-starring roles in “Lucifer,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Grimm,” “Will & Grace” and “The Mentalist.” Fabian will resume shooting “Better Call Saul” this spring.
“I’ve been part of good things, bad things, expensive things, inexpensive things,” he said. “And then I lucked up with ‘Better Call Saul.’ Midstream in my career, I’m in a well-appointed television series. That’s been a real boost.”
Following the series’ 24 Emmy nominations, “Better Call Saul” received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination last month for best ensemble in a drama series.
“We’ve been racking up great critical acclaim and our viewership seems to be increasing,” Fabian said. “The SAG award nomination particularly, I know we, as actors, really appreciate that because actors voted for it. That means our fellow actors are watching and like what we’re doing.”
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5
Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.