If you’ve seen Hulu’s “Boston Strangler,” you’ll remember the chilling scene in which a mysterious man stands in a dreary hallway, knocking on a woman’s door seconds before he enters her apartment to kill her. That character, identified in the credits as The Killer, is played by Pat Fitz.
While Fitz, 35, lives primarily in Los Angeles now, he is a Southie native, and his acting gigs keep pulling him back home to Boston. Fitz is making his way in Hollywood, moving from minor TV appearances, to a feature role in a low-budget film, and now a small role in an upcoming film with big names. And he’s not backing down any time soon.
He used to spar at South Boston Boxing Club, which, oddly enough, is his acting origin story. Lara Marcelonis was searching the club for the lead in her short film “Project Steps,” about a troubled young boxer in Southie. She asked Fitz, 15 at the time, if he was interested, and he jumped at the opportunity. Filming for the project took place over the next few months in Southie before the movie was screened at Florian Hall in Dorchester.
“I had no idea what I was doing, obviously — a total amateur — so I look at it now, and I’m like, ‘Oh, man, that’s painful to watch,’ ” he said. “After doing it, I was like, ‘I really enjoy this. I would like to do this more often.’ But, at that age, I was still in school, and there just weren’t really opportunities like that, so I continued on with my studies.”
After “Project Steps,” he had a part in another short film that was never finished. He also auditioned at local casting calls, but nothing worked out. He kept a hand in acting by performing in campus productions of “True West” and “Mauritius” at Curry College. After graduating, he still auditioned here and there while working in sales and as a financial adviser.
Everything changed for Fitz when he met with his uncle, actor Bo Cleary, in a very New England setting: at a Dunkin Donuts. Fitz confided that he was struggling with his professional path and yearning for an acting career. Cleary asked Fitz why he wasn’t chasing his dreams in LA, and Fitz expressed his doubts about acting not working out.
“The worst thing that can happen is you spend your 20s in Los Angeles. That doesn’t sound too bad to me,” Fitz recalls Cleary telling him.
“And it didn’t sound too bad to me either. So, a couple months later, I quit my job and moved to LA.”
Fitz scored his first lead role through a chance interaction with a director at a screening at Soho House in West Hollywood. Gino Gaetano thought Fitz might be a good fit for his film “In God’s Time” (2015), about four people who find their faith in God through a magic wristwatch showing them different perspectives on their pasts. He cast Fitz as Brandon, a man who lives in his car after going AWOL from the Army.
“That was actually supposed to be a short film,” said Fitz. “But we got a pretty good group of cast members together, and they continued to go through the writing, and then we started shooting it, and they were like, ‘Hey, I think we have enough for a feature here.’”
So the film became a 90-minute feature (it’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video).
When Fitz’s mother became terminally ill in the middle of 2021, he started spending much more time in Boston. While he was home, he decided to audition for “Boston Strangler” — the Hulu film released in March that follows journalists Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) as they investigate a series of murders of women in 1960s Boston.
Fitz plays The Killer, while another actor (David Dastmalchian) plays Albert DeSalvo, who confesses to the murders of 13 women. DeSalvo, however, was never convicted of the slayings due to lack of evidence — he was sentenced to life in prison for a different set of crimes — and the film suggests he wasn’t the actual Boston Strangler.
“It was freezing cold. It was single digits a lot of the days when we were filming, but it was so cool just being in the streets that I’ve known my whole life,” said Fitz. When onlookers watched them filming, he thought to himself: “I used to be on the other side of that, thinking like, ‘Wow, how cool. I wonder what they’re shooting? I would love to do something like that.’”
“It was a really great moment and experience to be in my town and be a part of such a big piece of history, especially the way the story was told,” he said, referring to the film’s focus on the two real-life female journalists who navigated sexism in the newsroom and beyond while following the case.
Auditions began for “Finestkind” — the story of “two brothers [who] are pulled into a deal with an organized crime syndicate in Boston,” according to IMDb — just as filming for “Boston Strangler” ended. Fitz decided to try out before heading back to LA.
He was cast as George, the new boyfriend of a lead character’s ex, in the Paramount+ crime thriller, which stars Tommy Lee Jones, Boston native Ben Foster, and Jenna Ortega (Wednesday Addams in the TV series “Wednesday”).
Filming for “Finestkind” began last spring in New Bedford; it’s not yet been released.
Now, said Fitz, “it’s always all about [what comes] next” as an actor. He is currently back in LA auditioning and training at the Playhouse West acting school.
Fitz also recently started writing scripts. He said learning how characters are developed on the page has helped with his own performances.
“I’m working to make a couple of short films before the end of the summer to submit to film festivals. But that’s certainly a fairly new passion of mine,” he said. “I’ve always loved to write creatively. That was something that always came kind of easy to me. And now it’s part fun, part therapy.”
Maddie Browning can be reached at email@example.com.