Comedian Patton Oswalt‘s released four albums and five EPs, has appeared on numerous TV shows, including Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, and was the voice of Remy (the Rat) in Ratatouille. He’s also a screenwriter and author, whose latest fiction release is Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. On Saturday, May 14th Oswalt will perform two shows at the Moore Theater, where he’ll be recording his upcoming CD/DVD and Showtime special. The Virginia-born Patton Oswalt and I had a chat in April – here’s what I wanted to know:
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
Patton Oswalt: Probably Nat King Cole’s version of “the Christmas Song.”
I liked your piece on “The Christmas Shoes.”
PO: Yeah, that’s a horrible song. That’s definitely not my favorite.
What kind of things do you read for fun? You were an English major, right?
PO: I was. I read everything. I read different magazines, different books. Richard Stark’s Parker novels. I just started this giant fantasy series by a guy named Scott Bakker. The first one’s called The Darkness that Comes Before.
You’ve mentioned the film the Road Warrior a few times in your sets. Do you like that movie?
PO: I love it. I love how well it’s made; I love the design and the pacing. It’s such a gorgeous piece of filmmaking.
What kind of acting roles would you like to do?
PO: Anything that’s interesting and challenging, and different from what I’ve done before. I want the variety.
How did the producers select you for Ratatouille?
PO: They contacted me. I lucked out.
What are some of the challenges of screenwriting? Outside interference?
PO: Yeah, that’s part of the challenge, trying to keep your vision intact in a barrage of notes and different people’s wants and desires. That’s what makes it interesting I guess.
You also work with other writers on their work. Is that fun?
PO: Punch-up stuff. It’s a lot easier than making up something whole cloth, but yeah I like it.
You slammed George Lucas for his Star Wars prequels. What could he have done to make them good?
PO: I would do what he did with Empire (Strikes Back) and Return of the Jedi, which was give it to other people to shepherd his vision – he had the humility and wisdom to do that the first time around.
What have been some of the biggest changes in your life after becoming a parent (Oswalt and his wife became parents in 2009)? Has your life been turned upside down?
PO: Not so much upside down, just kicked sideways a little bit. My daily schedule is definitely different. That’s the main difference – it’s not till 3 A.M. every night the way it used to be.
What are some of your early memories from childhood?
PO: Growing up in Norfolk, seeing snow, going to Southern California – Halloween, when the whole block is involved in it – that kind of thing.
Is Halloween still your favorite holiday? Do you dress up?
PO: Very much so. I don’t really dress up but I try to decorate the house and make it fun for the kids to come by and trick-or-treat. I still try to make it an event.
You’re a bit of a foodie. What’s your favorite food?
PO: I don’t really know that I have a specifically favorite food. It’s hard to say what’s my favorite. I’m sure it’s something pasta-based. I tend to love carbs and I’ve always got to fight against that.
What religion is the most convincing to you, or the lesser of evils? (Check out Sky Cake – it’s awesome).
PO: No belief system invented by humans has ever convinced me of anything. Never has.
I noticed you listed The Wicker Man on your list of movies on your MySpace Comedy page. What do you like about that film?
PO: I love the subtle growing atmosphere the director created on that island. Edward Woodward’s performance is so sustained and brilliant, and I think that’s one of the creepier movies ever made.
You’ve mentioned that your wife likes true crime. Have you gotten into it?
Not as much as she has but I’ve always certainly been fascinated with that. I like reading the cases and reporting that gets done – Vanity Fair, GQ – they’ll do some pretty in-depth articles about crimes and it always fascinates me.
For your book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland did you write around a theme?
PO: I didn’t really have a theme to write around, I just kind of wrote what amused and interested me. That was the way I pursued it.
Jonathan Winters seems to come up here and there in interviews with you. What’s appealing about him?
PO: It was those pockets of clarity in the audience when you would hear people getting it. I loved that.
What’s working with Janeane Garofalo like?
PO: Fun, she’s funny and great to work with. We didn’t do anything together in Ratatouille but we’ve done a lot of stand-up together.
What’s the worst thing about hippies?
PO: The kind of dreamy smelliness.
Do you have any plans to work with Joss Whedon again?
PO: I hope so. I don’t think I have the wherewithal to make plans with him, but if he’d have me again, sure. I’d love to – he’s amazing to work with.
Did you get out of Virginia as soon as you could?
PO: Yep. It just felt kind of limited. I wanted to see more.
For more information and tickets: