Patton Oswalt is one of the most interesting actors working today. So interesting, in fact, that I jumped at the chance to interview Oswalt for his blink-and-you'll-miss-it role as Roache in the new apocalyptic romantic comedy "Seeking a Friend For the End of the World." OK, I'm exaggerating a bit. You can blink many times and you will still see Oswalt in this movie. But, I'd be surprised if his screen time totaled over five minutes.
Regardless, Oswalt is the type of actor who, in a perfect world (and one that's not threatened to be destroyed by an asteroid), a good amount of time could be spent discussing ... whatever, really. Alas, we only had a ten-minute phone call.
In "Seeking a Friend," Oswalt joins a slew of other comedic actors (including star Steve Carell) who attend a party where anything goes -- like the open use of heroin -- because, why not? The world is ending in three weeks anyway. Here, Oswalt discusses what he looks for in a role after the acclaim he received for "Young Adult" and "Big Fan," explains what it was like to be at the Paramount 100th anniversary photo shoot, and reveals if he's ever heard from Lucasfilm after his well publicized comedy monologue on the "Star Wars" prequels.
I'll admit, this is tough because you have a very small part in this movie.
At the party, someone brings out a bag of heroin. I don't have a strong desire to do heroin, but if the world is going to end anyway, I think I would.
I would do it if Connie Britton was offering it. If she offered me heroin and the world wasn't ending, I would do it.
That is an interesting scene because it looked like a lot of fun, which is so different than the rest of the film.
Yeah, that was a really fun scene to do. That genuinely was a really good time. I thought it was really funny. It was a fun evening spent shooting a scene in a movie. So, you know, that's a nice little perk.
How do you get that call? "Hey, we have a small part in this movie, but it's a party scene with extremely funny people."
You get that call by lucking out.
I wouldn't say that. You've been in a lot of great stuff lately.
Yeah, but I lucked out. My agent called and said, "Here it is." And I'm like, "Fuck yeah."
I'd watch an entire movie watching what your character does with his final moments.
Oh, wow. Again, it was a really cool scene to do.
What do you think he did?
I mean, I have some ideas about where he ended up. But, I'm not going to say. I like that this movie gives you these little blips of people's stories, which makes you wonder how the next 21 days play out for that person. And I don't want to spoil anyone's perception of that.
Or ruin it in case that version featuring you does get made.
You were a part of the Paramount 100th anniversary photo.
Yeah, I just hung way back. And I just kind of watched the room. I was much more of a film buff in that room. I felt much more like a film buff than a colleague. So, I just had a lot of fun watching the room come together and watching people react to each other. It was really cool.
Did you have to stop yourself from approaching someone that you didn't know?
I left everyone alone except for the people that I knew that I could talk to. I was not going to go up and bother anybody.
I'm very curious as to the vibe of that room.
I just didn't want to be an annoying fan.
I feel you're at an interesting place in your career. Both "Young Adult" and "Big Fan" were very well received. Are those the types of films that you want to do?
Well, I just want to keep doing stuff that's interesting and fun for me to do. So, something that's unlike anything I've done before is the direction I always want to go in. Sharp left, right turn. That, to me, is more fun in the long run. I want whatever is interesting to me -- and that can be in any genre.
You got a lot of attention about your comedy routine on the "Star Wars" prequels. Did you ever hear anything one way or another from Lucasfilm?
No, I never got any feedback. Not even from employees. So either he didn't find out about it, because he's a multibillionaire -- why would you care what a comedian thinks? -- or he found out about it and there's an embargo on opinions. Who knows? Who knows?
But you did become the sounding board for many a disappointed fan.
Well, there were a lot of disappointed fans that were sounding boards for each other on that. So, it wasn't just me. That was kind of the whole chorus that was going on at the time. I feel like I was one of many voices [laughs].
True. But I'm not sure anyone else put it quite as eloquently as you did. I still see it pop up in my Facebook news feed from time to time.
Well, thank you! [Laughs] Yeah.
A couple of years ago you had your material stolen. Looking back, what kind of emotions do you feel about that?
Well, I wrote about it in detail in a blog. All of my different conflicting emotions. So, yeah, it's everything. There's some anger; there's some weirdness. It's like, "I thought my stuff was kind of more personal to me. I guess it can be lifted." You know, pity. It's always sadder to have to steal than be stolen from. I guess. I hate dwelling on it. It was more of a chance for me, not to attack the stealer, but to kind of let the public know. And it's going to have to be said over and over again, kind of like being taped at my shows, "Please don't steal stuff." So, that became more of an opportunity to put another brick in the wall as, "Please don't steal."
I have a hypothetical. A producer comes to you and tells you that you can remake a movie that you feel has a good story, but didn't hit the mark. Maybe, as an example, a movie like "The Last Starfighter." What would you pick?
Well, it depends. Some remakes are good because -- like Cronenberg's "The Fly" -- they take something that didn't go far enough. Then some are kind of pointless because they're doing a movie that already did its job perfectly and it stood the test of time. So, you owe it to the source material. Also, you just have to read the new script. You know? Are they doing anything original?
Why do you say that about "The Fly"?
They went further with it. The original only went to a very limited, very basic idea. And he took it into that much deeper body horror idea. So, you know, again, it depends on the new script -- you have to read it. For all I know, they could be remaking "The Last Starfighter" and they totally ruin it. Maybe the script is really interesting. It just depends on the script.