Robert Patrick

Robert Patrick

Look familiar? He should. Robert Patrick’s roles include Col. Tom Ryan in The Unit, John Doggett in The Ex-Files and the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. When he’s not in front of the camera, he’s often on his motorcycle, zooming around the country as a part of the Boozefighters, a nonprofit organization that raises money to help vets, children and the poor. Recently Patrick traveled to Iraq to offer encouragement to our troops. Here the actor talks to ABILITY Magazine about those adventures, as well as what happens when he gets pulled over by the cops, why he stopped drinking and how he chose acting:

I became an actor because it was the only thing I was interested in. When I went deep into my soul and asked myself what is it that I wanted to do with my life, acting was the answer I got. I like playing other people. That’s my calling. So I sat in on a few drama classes in college, did a few plays in school, and drove to Hollywood and basically said, “I’m an actor. Now what do I have to do? How do I get started?”

I’ve done a lot of movies, but the biggest one was Terminator 2: Judgment Day, playing the T1000, opposite Schwarzenegger’s character. He’s about my size. I’m 6 feet, 208 pounds. I think he’s about 6 foot 1. When we were making the movie he was about 195 pounds. I just saw Arnold recently at the funeral of his dear friend, Stan Winston, who created the look of The Terminator and all the make-up special effects for Jurassic Park. It was great to see Arnold, but sad to see him under those circumstances.

I was 30 years old when we made The Terminator in 1990. I’ve had huge life experiences since I made that movie, which is locked in time. I look at it and go, “Oh, my God, look how young and skinny I was!” I was skinny because I was broke. I was also on drugs at the time, and I drank. I actually had a serious drug and alcohol problem.

I no longer drink or take drugs and I’ve been sober for 11 years. A big part of my life now is riding motorcycles. I belong to a motorcycle club called the Boozefighters. Steve O is the vice president of Chapter 101, and I am the president. There’s a great story about how this club came about: It was established in 1946 by veterans who came back from World War II. Many of them had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as we call it today, and didn’t feel like they fit in with normal society. They got the name because they drank and they fought, and somebody in a bar said, “You know, you guys should call your club the Boozefighters, because all you do is drink and fight.” And they decided to call it that.

They liked to ride their motorcycles and raise hell. It was all fairly innocent: Have a good time, continue the sense of brotherhood, duty and honor—values they brought back with them from the war. I’m sure they just had a lot of adrenalin and steam to blow off as they came to grips with returning home and getting back into society. So they formed these motorcycle clubs, and Boozefighters is one of many formed at the time. But Boozefighters is historic, one of the earliest ones, organized around the same time as the Galloping Gooses, the Top Hatters and the 13 Rebels.

The Boozefighters started in Los Angeles in 1947, two years before the Hell’s Angels. One Fourth of July at the AMA Pro Races, one of our founders actually drove into one of the races that was in progress and rode over a fence, causing havoc. Then club members basically took over the main street of the town, Hollister, CA, and raised a little hell. When Life magazine covered the event, they staged a couple photographs of drunken vets, home from the war, terrorizing the common folks. They played up the drama, creating this image of the outlaw biker who was gonna come and terrorize your town, so lock up your women and all that kind of stuff.

The Galloping Gooses were there, the Boozefighters were there, the Top Hatters, and a lot of these older clubs. They were all pretty much the same, all formed by guys coming home from the war. But the Boozefighters got connected to the myth more so than the others.


That incident in Hollister (near Monterey), later became the inspiration for the movie The Wild One, made in 1953 with Marlon Brando. The producers recruited our leader, “Wino” Willie Forkner, to be a technical advisor. I think the big thing that he’s credited for is coming up with the name Black Rebel motorcycle club. He took the 13 and combined the 1 and the 3 to make a “B” and created the Black Rebel motorcycle club, a fictional club in the movie, which was the one that belonged to Brando’s character. The other club leader in the film was Lee Marvin, who actually followed Wino around and based his portrayal on him.

The interesting thing was that Lee Marvin was actually a returning vet himself. He was a Marine who served in Iwo Jima, and really understood what was going on in those guys’ heads. His motorcycle club was called the Beetles.

So the movie comes out and over in Liverpool there are four guys who have a little band. The movie makes a big impression on them, and they actually liked the name the Beetles and decided to change the name of their band. So the Beatles got their name, more or less, from an American motorcycle club.

I go off to make a movie in New Zealand called Bridge to Terabithia. While I’m down there, I get a call from Steve O and another guy saying, “Hey, we want to do this cross-country trip around America at such-and-such a time.” I say, “OK, cool.” When I get back, I do We Are Marshall, and then we put this trip together and rode across America.

I had read the book about the Boozefighters, The Original Wild Ones: The Boozefighters, written by Bill Hayes, and they seemed like great guys. The book got me wondering about what happened to them. Well, as we’re making our way back across America, we get pulled over for speeding in Yellowstone. The cop starts talking to us and I pull my helmet off and, fortunately for us, he recognizes me. So, he let’s us go. When I get pulled over, police often say, “Hey, I didn’t know it was you.” That kind of thing. “Of course you didn’t, I was wearing a full-face helmet. Like you could see through it?” But I say, “Yeah, man, it’s me. How you doin’?” Some say, “Oh, well, I’m sorry.” I’m thinking, What? You’re sorry for doing your job? We were speeding. I don’t blame you. Then they say, “I’m going to let you go,” and I think: OK, I appreciate that. That’s one of the perks.

At the same time, if you wear the patch and you belong in a club, police treat those persons a bit differently when they pull them over. They think you’re up to no good. It’s not fair, that sort of discrimination against motorcyclists and motorcycle clubs. We’re not up to no good, we just happen to be brothers and want to ride together. We take care of each other. We don’t want to do anybody any harm. We don’t want to cause any trouble or anything like that.

In Yellowstone, after the police recognized me and let us go, I said to the dudes, “Hey, while we’re here, why don’t we go grab something to eat?” We go in and we’re eating in this diner, and in walks a Boozefighter. I’d never seen one in my life. The guy was 6 foot 4, about 270 pounds. Huge white beard, white hair, looked like frickin’ Santa Claus on steroids. I just went like, “Jesus Christ, that guy’s got to be one of the original Boozefighters.” He sat down across the counter from us. He looked at me and I looked at him, and I said, “I know who you are,” and he said, “I know who you are.” We started talking, and I said, “You’ve got to be one of the original Boozefighters.” He said, “Nah, I’m not that old.”.... continued in ABILITY Magazine

The Robert Patrick article was edited for the web, Boozefighters MC Chapter 101 "our motto is that we are 'a drinking club with a motorcycle problem'"

Harley Cooper

ABILITY Magazine
Other articles in the Robert Patrick issue include Headlines — Voting Gains; Help with Medicare; Humor — Run for Office? Run the Other Way!; Green Pages — Water by Computer, Solar Flashlight; DRLC — Make Polling Places Accessible For All; Best Practices — HP & Boeing; Anita Kaiser — Finding Innovative Ways to Mother; JR Martinez — Soldiering On; Managing Pain — Ear Aches, Tooth Aches; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences... subscribe

Vol 2008 Oct/Nov

More excerpts from the Robert Patrick issue:

Robert Patrick -- Interview

Kennedy Legacy — Anthony Kennedy Shriver - Best Buddies; William Kennedy Smith, MD - iCons

Asst. Secretary of Labor — ‘Everybody Needs to Work’

Meredith Eaton — From Therapist to Actress

The Scent of Cancer

JR Martinez — Soldiering On

Best Practices — HP & Boeing

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