Jason Patric: 'I'll Fight 'Til I'm Dead' to See Son

The actor is in a custody battle with his ex, hasn't seen his son in 25 weeks.

August 16, 2013, 10:46 AM

Aug. 16, 2013 — -- Jason Patric is best known as the star of "The Lost Boys," a prince of Hollywood who has dated some of the most glamorous starlets of the past two decades.

But it's his role as a father that has most recently launched public scrutiny into some of the most private aspects of his life.

Watch the full story on "20/20: Famous Parents, Famous Problems" TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.

The trouble began three years ago, when his former girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, asked him to help conceive a baby.

"I've been in a lot of relationships," Patric said in an interview with "20/20" anchor David Muir. "I was always worried about having a child. ... But I was with someone, and I was at a certain age, [with] someone that I trusted and I loved. And so I said, 'Well, we can try this route.'"

A year later, their son, Gus, was born through the miracle of in vitro fertilization.

For the next two years, Patric said, he was at the house every day.

"Absolutely," he said. "I play music. I scratch his back. I help him articulate his fingers. I speak Shakespeare into his ear, 'cause I think that he should know that one day."

But while the love for his son only grew, the relationship between Patric and Schreiber grew strained.

Patric had every intention that his parenting relationship with Gus would continue, he said.

"Of course. I mean, it's not just me," Patric said. "The two most important words in a child -- the two most important visions, ideas -- are Mama and Dada. It means safety, support, food, love. That's there. I mean, that was always going to be the case."But, Patric said, when he filed for joint custody, he discovered something shocking.

"My lawyer said to me, 'They're saying you're not the father.' And I said, 'What?'" Patric said, laughing. "'You're not the father.'"In California, a sperm donor has no paternity rights. Without a marriage or a written agreement with Schreiber, Patric was not the father in the eyes of the state.

Asked if he ever said he would help but didn't want to be the child's father, Patric said, "No."

He never would have agreed to participate in IVF had he known Schreiber might not have wanted him to be the father, he added."I was going to be the 'intended parent,' as that says [on the IVF forms, which Patric brought to the interview]," he said. "The word parent, if you look in the dictionary, means, 'to beget birth, nourish or raise a child.' And that was my intention."

Patric provided videos showing him in a normal father role: Gus' first haircut, a birthday party, the moment when Gus recognizes Patric's photo on a Playbill.

And he recounted a Christmas card from Schreiber.

"In her handwriting," Patric read, "'Jason, I love you more than anything. What else can I say? You've done everything.' Then for Gus, 'Dada, thank you for teaching me to pee in the toilet, watch airplanes, learn Beatles songs. I love you, Dada. Gus.' There's nowhere in that card where it says, 'I love you, sperm donor.'"

But Schreiber has said Patric never intended to be a father because he insisted that his sperm donation remain anonymous.In a statement, Schreiber said, "I allowed Patric to have contact with my son while we were dating. And even then he insisted that I keep his donation a secret and uphold our original agreement."

Patric acknowledged writing a letter, but said it could never amount to a legally binding "agreement" affecting his paternity rights."It was a letter ... in a despondent night, a breakup letter, a love letter, this and that, signed by myself. It's not a legal document," he said.

What does it say?

"Oh, everything about our relationship, what we were, my fear of being a father, 'I don't know if I can be a father,' 'I think I can give you this,' 'I don't think we can be married,' all that. But that's nothing. I mean, because after that letter, four months later, we said, 'You know what? Let's do this. Let's go in and sign intended parent with a witness and have this child," Patric said.

His family and friends "absolutely" knew he had a child, Patric said.

Yet his name is not on the birth certificate.

'I didn't make an announcement of it either," Patric said. "I've never had a child. If I can protect him from the bad aspects of my fame that I can, I certainly will. ... This was my idea of trying, and it worked. For two years, there were no pictures of Gus [with] me. None."

Patric reiterated that his intention to stay in his son's life is written clearly -- eight times -- in the IVF documents, where he signs his name as "intended parent" on his donor form rather than waiving his rights. Schreiber signed for the same status.

Asked if he asked at the time what that phrase meant legally, Patric said, "No. What does any ... woman or man think 'intended parent' means?"

"Well, my judge found, obviously, that legally it didn't matter," Patric said.

After losing the court battle, Patric took his battle to the California legislature. But this past week, despite his impassioned plea, the legislation was put on hold by an assembly committee.

It's been 25 weeks since Patric last saw his son, he said.

"The last thing I said to him was, I picked him up, I put him in the car and we drove back after driving to Danielle's, and he said, 'I'm missing you, Dada,'" Patrick said. "I said, That's all right. I'm going to see you tomorrow, little man. And I've never seen him again."There's not a picture of me in his house," Patric added, beginning to weep. "Forget about my pain, because, you know, I'm an adult and I got in a situation that I should've been smarter about, I guess, or whatever. But he doesn't know. You know, his little furrowed brow wondering where his dad is. ... He doesn't know that. And he's not a possession."

Patric hopes to share custody.

"I want Gus to have the two parents that he had his whole life until he was 2 1/2 years old."

Did Patric wonder if he'd ever see Gus again?

"I'm going to fight 'til I'm dead to see him," he said. "And I'm doing things like this [interview] so he knows I've done everything in my power to make sure he has a Dada."

"It breaks my heart. ... And he has a room in my house, and I don't open the door," he added. "Last week, the maid had cleaned it, and it was left ajar, and I can't go in there. I've forgotten what his voice sounds like."

What would Patric say to Gus?

"I love you. This is not your fault. I promise you I'm going to do everything I can to see you, little man."

To Schreiber?

"Why? Why?"

Watch the full story on "20/20: Famous Parents, Famous Problems" TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.

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