The writer-director (who previously penned the script for 'The Wrestler') specifically requested Oswalt for the role of Paul Aufiero. A comedy veteran himself, having edited 'The Onion' for many years, Siegel knew the enthusiasm Oswalt brought to his onstage diatribes about food, booze, '80s metal, comic books, and George W. Bush. While Oswalt admits to not being a sports fan himself, outside of Gayle Sayers highlight reels, he could still identify with his character's lifelong fandom of the New York Giants. Patton Oswalt grew up a passionate fanboy in Sterling, Virginia. His fervor and eloquence led to writing, then standup comedy, then voice-acting in 'Ratatouille,' and most recently, starring in Robert Siegel's dark comedy about obsession, 'Big Fan'.
The writer-director (who previously penned the script for 'The Wrestler') specifically requested Oswalt for the role of Paul Aufiero. A comedy veteran himself, having edited 'The Onion' for many years, Siegel knew the enthusiasm Oswalt brought to his onstage diatribes about food, booze, '80s metal, comic books, and George W. Bush. While Oswalt admits to not being a sports fan himself, outside of Gayle Sayers highlight reels, he could still identify with his character's lifelong fandom of the New York Giants.
For the DVD release of 'Big Fan,' the star had obviously been doing a lot of interviews and -- so let's just say his level of tolerance for certain questions was lower than a French Bulldog. During our phone conversation, he snaps during the third question and annoyance drips through his tone over the next 10 minutes. Still, he made for an interesting chat -- just don't ask him to be hopeful about the end of train-wreck entertainment.
You admittedly grew up a fanboy -- how does it feel to now be on the other side and have your own fans?
I kind of got a taste of that with 'King of Queens' and 'Ratatouille.' It feels good ... I guess.
Have you had many surreal experiences with having younger versions of yourself approach you?
Oh yeah, I think everyone has that. Not that there's anything weird about it, it's just, "Oh, this is an enthusiastic amateur." And you try to encourage them because the way the culture's going, I think everyone is going to get dragged or invited in front of the camera at some point.
You were just talking about that on 'The Adam Carolla Podcast'. How people have convinced themselves they like watching train-wreck entertainment. Is there any end in sight?
(Irritated) That's what I said on the podcast, there is no end in sight. I already talked about that on the podcast. There's no getting out of it. I kind of already talked about it on the podcast. You're asking me questions that you heard me answer on the podcast (Annoyed laughter).
You talked about shows like 'Celebrity Rehab' enabling even washed-up stars to stay famous, but there does seem to be a shift in quality entertainment on TV ...
That's what I said. There's plenty of good entertainment but the ratio of bad stuff is so much higher these days.
Recently, you commented that TV shows now are better than movies. Is that because TV studios have to work harder to win over audiences?
It's the same thing that film studios went through in the '60s and '70s. The audience is starting to dry up, so they're taking more risks. It's not out of any artistic compulsion. It's out of fear and desperation.
What do movies need to do to gain the upper hand again?
What I'm saying is that movies have gained the upper hand. I'm just talking about the quality level. TV is better than movies in quality level but movies are still kicking TV's ass as far as box office and cultural currency. I never said that movies were struggling behind TV. I'm just saying that movies have a better creative cache.
What movies did you really enjoy last year that our readers may have missed?
I didn't see a lot of movies last year. I had a baby. I was doing the album. I was shooting a lot of different TV shows and movies. I barely got to see any movies. I'm sure anything I saw last year the audience has had more than a chance to look at.
Do you have any new obsessions like music or odd children's television?
Like I said, I just have no time. I don't really have the obsessive downtime that I used to have.
Did you ever aspire to have such a long and diverse acting resume?
(Annoyed sarcasm) Uh, no, I just wanted to do it for a year and quit ... What are you talking about? Doesn't every actor aspire to have that?
I didn't know if acting was ever something you wanted to do on top of writing and stand-up?
Well, I went into this wanting to be a writer, and kind of fell into stand-up, and kind of fell into acting. It's all been a glorious happy accident so far.
Are you writing any TV or movie scripts now?
I'm working on some things, but writing is like buying a scratch and win lottery ticket. You don't know if anything's going to happen with it.
Do you have a pipe dream project?
I don't know. I'm just trying to focus on real work right now. Everyone has weird, far-off pipe dreams, but all those seem to do is siphon energy off real work.
'The Onion' named 2004's '222' as one of the best comedy albums of the decade. Do you feel that's your best album?
The one I'm happiest with is 'Werewolves and Lollipops' (2007). As far as capturing a live performance on audio, that's been my best attempt so far at creating something as good as [Steve Martin's] 'Comedy Is Not Pretty' or some of the earlier Bill Hicks, or Louis C.K. things. I think we're talking about two different things: content or execution.
On your blog, you sing the praises of Jason Statham. Could Statham have improved 'Big Fan'?
Jason Statham could improve any movie that he is in, so I'm going to say yes.
What character could he have played?
Jason Statham. That's what he does, man, plays Jason Statham.