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Way less than six degrees of separation in the cast of 'That Championship Season' revival

February 26, 2011 | 10:30 am

Jasonpatric In the current Broadway revival of “That Championship Season,”  Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric play a pair of feuding brothers on a team gathered at a reunion to celebrate their state basketball championship.

At the announcement of the casting, eyebrows were raised among those who could remember the 1991 “runaway bride” episode when Julia Roberts balked at marrying Sutherland just days before their highly anticipated wedding. Some time  later the actress hied off to Ireland  with none other than ... Patric, whose friendship with Sutherland dated to when they worked together on the 1987 vampire film “The Lost Boys.”

Would any remaining bitterness find its way into the onstage relationship?

Patric dismisses such speculation as bunk, noting that the press reports at the time were “overblown.”

“Kiefer and I hadn't seen each other for a couple of years when that happened,” says Patric.  “They had a relationship and it ended and Julia and I happened to meet.  You can't choose who you fall in love with and she's a really lovely person. What I didn't expect was the avalanche [of publicity].”

Roberts and Patric eventually  went their separate ways, and he continued an iconoclastic career in indies such as   “Rush,”  “Sleepers” and “Your Friends & Neighbors”. Patric says that he hadn't seen or heard from Sutherland for 22 years when he received a call out of the blue from him last September. Having finished his successful stint on the television series “24,” Sutherland was eager to discuss new career opportunities.

“Kiefer told me that for the first time in his life he could do whatever he wanted and  he wanted to talk to somebody whose career path he respected,” recalls Patric.

He pointed Sutherland towards the theater, eventually introducing him to director Gregory Mosher, then in the midst of casting “Championship,” the 1972 award-winning play written by Patric's father, Jason Miller. 

Patric, as the literary executor of his father's estate,  was involved in the casting, which would grow to include Chris Noth, Brian Cox and Jim Gaffigan. “This was a case when I could actually have said, 'Hmmm, no,'  but Gregory and I were on board from the get-go,” says Patric. “I think this cast is [expletive] good and very dedicated. They feel an obligation not to fail my dad.” 

In fact, at one point, he suggested to Mosher that his father's ashes be a part of the set and the director concurred. As Tom Daley, Patric spends a lot of time near a living room cupboard where, in a silver urn, lie the remains of the play's author, who died in 2001 at  the age of 62.

“I think the old man would be very pleased,” says his son. For more on Jason Patric and “That Championship Season,” click here. 

 --Patrick Pacheco

Photos: Jason Patric. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times