Empire (UK)

A Patton emerging

From a rat to a troll, PATTON OSWALT talks us through key beats in his unique career

- (2022)

AMONG HIS MANY accomplish­ments, Patton Oswalt predicted The Book Of Boba Fett. In a 2013 Parks And Rec episode, he played a pop-cultureobs­essed town-hall attendee who launches into a wild (improvised by Oswalt) filibuster, predicting a project in which “the gloved, Mandaloria­n armour gauntlet of Boba Fett grabs on to the sand outside the Sarlacc pit and the feared bounty hunter pulls himself from the maw of the sand beast.” Eight years later, Oswalt, watching the Disney+ show, tweeted, “YOU’RE WELCOME.” His fervour for film is unmatched (see his excellent book Silver Screen Fiend), but he’s also created plenty of iconic moments himself. Here, he talks us through some milestone roles.



The first years of his career gave stand-up comic Oswalt all kinds of small roles in major movies: ‘Monkey Photograph­er’ in Zoolander, ‘Blue Collar Guy’ in Man On The Moon. In Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, he appears atop a tree in scuba gear. “I was doing a club called the Largo in LA and Paul used to hang out there a lot,” Oswalt recalls. “He was hanging out in the kitchen, I’d just come off stage, and he was like, ‘You want to be in a movie?’ The next day I was hanging out in a tree. It was as easy as that.”



A big break (of sorts), the infamous Blade threequel had a wild shoot, with Oswalt once claiming that Wesley Snipes communicat­ed with the director via Post-it notes signed “From Blade” (denied by Snipes). “Making that movie was a blast,” he says now. “You get to experience really cool stuff in this business and that was one of them, you know?” A comic-book enthusiast, Oswalt is excited for the imminent reboot with Mahershala Ali. “I like the darker aspects of Marvel. So if they do that kind of street-level Midnight Sons thing, I’m all in.”



For the past 15 years or so, when Oswalt has visited restaurant­s, he often gets special attention. “A lot of chefs watch Ratatouill­e,” he says, “so they’ll give me something special off the menu.” The Pixar classic, featuring a rat cook voiced by Oswalt, has endured, even getting riffed on by Everything Everywhere All At Once, which features hair-pulling raccoon ‘Raccacooni­e’. “I had no idea that was coming,” he laughs. “When Raccacooni­e showed up, I was like, ‘Oh, we’re part of the culture now...’”


BIG FAN (2009)

A hit at Sundance, this tale of an embittered New York Giants fan who’s beaten up by his hero gave Oswalt a chance to flex his dramatic muscles. “Adam [Sandler] told me he was going to do it, when it was called ‘Paul Aufiero’. And then I ended up getting it somehow. To even be considered in Adam’s league, that’s a big deal.” The shoot was cheap — “No real equipment, no real estate” — and the role demanding. “The character doesn’t really have the vocabulary or inner resources to interact with the world. Whereas I’m a comedian and try to be funny and personable. So it was just a day-today process of having to shut down that instinct.”



Oswalt met Jason Reitman at a dog park, where they were both walking their French bulldogs. They struck up a rapport, and Reitman invited Oswalt to read a then-uncast role at the table-read for his new film, Young Adult. “I was a placeholde­r, but the chemistry between Charlize [Theron] and I was so good, we just decided to go with it.” Oswalt is outstandin­g as a disabled old classmate of Theron’s character. “It was daunting,” he recalls. “I wanted to be really, really prepared, so I worked a long time with an acting coach and with a physical trainer, to get the limp down. This was the first film where I really broke the script down and did the work.”



If you weren’t deafened by the screams of Harry Styles fans at the end of this Marvel movie, you would have noticed a diminutive CG troll beside

Styles’ Eros. Meet Pip. He’s kind of a big deal. “That was the first motion-capture guy I’ve ever played,” Oswalt says. “I was on a little wheelie chair next to Harry Styles. What better way to jump in?” He’s appeared in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and voiced the title character in MODOK, but Oswalt is now fully part of the MCU; though his declaratio­n in a recent interview that Eternals 2 is confirmed has sadly been debunked. “If there is going to be a sequel, I’ll be the last to know. I was catfished by the internet.”



Speaking of which, catfishing is the theme of his new film, the dark comedy I Love My Dad, about

a father who, desperate to be in contact with his angry son, pretends to be a waitress named Becca. “What appealed to me was not only the fact that it’s based on a real thing that happened to the writer-director, but that he manages to make a character who’s so morally adrift seem lovable,” says Oswalt. In real life, he has been the target of online tricksters himself, with fake Patton Oswalt accounts popping up on Instagram. How do you know they’re fake? “If it’s just gibberish or links to go buy something,” he cautions, “that’s how you’ll know it’s not me.” There are many trolls, but only one Pip the Troll. NICK DE SEMLYEN


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 ?? ?? Clockwise from top left: Young Adult; Magnolia; Big Fan; Ratatouill­e; Eternals; Blade: Trinity and I Love My Dad.
Clockwise from top left: Young Adult; Magnolia; Big Fan; Ratatouill­e; Eternals; Blade: Trinity and I Love My Dad.

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