Patrick Fugit

The Fugit files

Plucked from obscurity to star in Almost Famous, Patrick Fugit recently discussed his most notable previous film credit with The Onion A.V. Club.

Patrick Fugit: The day after I got an agent, I got called in for a role in a TV movie called Legion Of Fire: Killer Ants. I came on for about 10 minutes as the main character's best friend, made fun of him for a little while, and then said something like, "I found this really big hill. Quite the cool thing. It's a big mound of dirt. Let's go look at it." The dialogue was no less corny and cheesy than that. I mean, here are two kids stoked about this 15-foot pile of dirt in the middle of nowhere. So we ride our bikes up there, we climb up the hill, and my friend says, "This is too weird. I'm going to tell the sheriff," who was his dad. I say, "You're a chicken!" and then I sink into the anthill screaming. That was my part.

The Onion: It seems like you could get away from ants. You'd have to go through a lot of trouble in order to get hurt by them.

PF: They were big, though. They were supposed to be big and take huge chunks out of your flesh. They can devour, like, a 200-pound moose in 10 or 15 minutes, down to the bone. So it was all supposed to be very terrifying.

O: Was it?

PF: No. In fact, the actual shooting was much more terrifying than the film itself. I was on top of this 15-foot anthill with the camera on one side of the slope, and on the other side there was a rocky cliff that dropped down into a stream. They had all these stunt guys around the anthill, ready for me to get blown off at any time. Then they lowered me into this hole with rubber tubing fit around me to make it look like I'm going in. Then they put kitty litter all over the thing so it looked like I was sinking into sand, and they lowered me down on a pulley elevator. So I was amassing kitty litter in my ears and the pockets of my shirt. I had to do that a bunch of times while screaming.