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Interview: Talking Obsessions with the Big Fan Guys

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There's obsessive and then there's obsessive, as comedian Patton Oswalt admits, sitting in the atrium of a Park City, Utah, hotel, where his film Big Fan was having its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

"Obsessive?" he says with a hearty chuckle. "Hey, I just met Paul Giamatti and I was like a girl meeting the Jonas Brothers."

Actor Kevin Corrigan, who plays Oswalt's best friend in the film, admits that he has trouble talking to actors he obsesses about.

"Nine times out of 10, when I've met them, it's gone horribly," Corrigan says. "I say something stupid or I get as tongue-tied as I hoped I wouldn't get. I do well with people if I don't know who they are. Like I had a good conversation with Eddie Vedder one time, but I didn't know who he was. He was talking about his own music and I said, 'Oh, are you in a band?'"

In Big Fan, which opened in limited release last week, Oswalt and Corrigan play a pair of Staten Island buddies who are obsessed with the New York Giants. Oswalt's character, Paul Aufiero, still lives with his mom, works a dead-end job and has a bedroom with an NFL comforter on the bed and a poster of his favorite player over the bed. But his life turns upside down when he approaches that player one night in a Manhattan strip club -- and the guy beats the crap out of him, putting him into the hospital.

The film was written and directed by Robert Siegel, who spent 10 years as editor of The Onion and wrote The Wrestler. To Siegel, it's the obsession that makes Paul a character interesting enough to build a whole movie around.

"What interests me are people who are really into something specific -- something that 99 percent of the rest of the population doesn't give a crap about," Siegel says. Not that Siegel ever had a fixation himself: "My hero as a kid was Terry Bradshaw, when I was 12 or 13. But I wouldn't say I ever had an unhealthy obsession."

His interest in Paul's character, however, is pure; Siegel is quick to point out that he had no intention of making Paul the butt of the film's jokes.

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