Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Interview with Comedian Patton Oswalt

This interview took place via email on September 22nd, 2009, to promote Big Fan. I also added in a couple of questions that were asked at a Q+A at the Landmark Egyptian in Seattle, WA on September 18th.

Tyler Foster: As both a celebrity and a self-proclaimed nerd, it seems like you have the unique standpoint of seeing both Paul and Quantrell's side of the conflict. While Quantrell Bishop is clearly in the wrong for physically assaulting Paul, don't you think there's something weird about these guys following him around?

Patton Oswalt: Of course there’s something weird. That’s another reason I liked the script — everyone feels justified in their viewpoints and actions.

Tyler Foster: Do you get fans hassling you? Do you have some sort of personal line that they'd have to cross before you'd stop talking to them or wouldn't want to talk to them?

Patton Oswalt: Most of the time, when my fans meet me, they’re polite and smart. The few that are rude, I just sort of tune out, right in front of them, and they tend to walk away. I think the rude ones get a lot of that from everyone they meet, so I don’t come off as arrogant or mean.

Tyler Foster: Do you follow sports?

Patton Oswalt: No. I...view sports the way an autistic child looks at love. I watch it, and I understand that other people are happy, and I like that they're happy, but I just don't get it. To me, it's like watching a bunch of superheroes with no powers.

Tyler Foster: Did you attempt to do any research for the movie, perhaps in vain?

Patton Oswalt: Nope!

Tyler Foster: At the Q&A in Seattle, someone brought up that you had said previously that you do movies so that you can do the stand-up. This is a similar question, but that makes me wonder, how much personal investment do you have in or how much joy do you get out of acting?

Patton Oswalt: I get a lot of joy out of acting and writing. Anything I do creatively I try to put my heart and soul into. But why not have an overall goal in life?

Tyler Foster: Along those lines, most of your movie and TV roles are either by someone I might guess you'd consider a friend in the comedy community, like Observe and Report with Seth Rogen and Jody Hill, or someone with obvious prestige, like Pixar, or Steven Soderbergh (and Big Fan is both, since Siegel edited The Onion and wrote The Wrestler), so if it weren't for these people, would you just not really seek out any acting work?

Patton Oswalt: No, I’ve done plenty of acting work with and for people I didn’t know personally, and ended up getting along with famously. That’s how most acting works. But I definitely get movie roles because people come looking for me. It's not like I call up Pixar and go "today's your lucky day!"

Tyler Foster: Did you know Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport or Siegel before signing onto this?

Patton Oswalt: I knew of Siegel, but I didn’t meet him until he gave me the script. I met the other guys on the film.

Tyler Foster: If Martin Scorsese calls up and says "I'd love for you to be in my movie in a small part, and we shoot it on Sunday" and you have a show on Sunday, do you reschedule the show or do you have to pass?

Patton Oswalt: I’d totally re-schedule the show. I’ve done that before — they always understand. I’d help them find someone to replace me, as well.

Tyler Foster: On your CDs, you always talk about doing all of these scripts you wrote, and I was just wondering if any of them were inching closer to being produced?

Patton Oswalt: Writing a movie and getting a movie made are two totally different things. I just found out that a screenplay that I wrote was rewritten by two different guys, and now two other guys are rewriting that version to make it more like the version I did originally. But I still do punch-up, I did some material for Funny People, and I'm still...'the guy' at DreamWorks, they'll call me up and I'll say, "wait, so this is the story of a donut that wants to be a bagel...?"

Tyler Foster: Can you tell us about any of the movies you did drafts on?

Patton Oswalt: No.

Tyler Foster: Since doing punch-up is, presumably, uncredited work, do you ever feel like you're just giving away material? Do you ever wish you had credit for some of these things when they come out the other end?

Patton Oswalt: I’m not giving it away if they pay me the profane sums they pay me, am I?

Tyler Foster: The IMDb trivia page for Big Fan has an awesome piece of trivia: "Director Robert D. Siegel has said that between takes in the strip club, while other members of cast and crew were enjoying the company of dancers, actor Patton Oswalt was watching episodes of "John Adams" (2008) on his iPod in a private room." Do you have any comment on this?

Patton Oswalt: I was actually re-watching Season 4 of "The Wire".

Follow @bigfan_movie on Twitter, befriend Patton Oswalt on facebook and MySpace, and go see Big Fan, in theaters now.

Special thanks to Gary Rubin of First Independent Pictures for making this happen.

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