MOVIES: Patton Oswalt makes leap to ‘Young Adult’Comedian/actor/writer Patton Oswalt has put his trademark on the funny schlub role (King of Queens), but he’s garnering serious Oscar buzz for reaching outside his comfort zone in the new ink-black comedy, Young Adult (opening Dec. 16), Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s first post-Juno collaboration. The film stars Charlize Theron as a 30-something writer who comes home to win back her high school boyfriend — who’s now happily married with a new baby. Oswalt plays Matt, the equally damaged voice of reason who becomes her confidant. WE caught up with Oswalt in person at the Whistler Film Festival last week, where he received a best supporting actor award — likely the first of many this awards season — for his Young Adult performance.
It seems more natural for comedians to transition into acting than vice versa. Did it feel natural for you?
Well, not at first. The transition began around ‘95. I think I was lucky enough that I hung around with people who were like, ‘Just because you’re doing well at stand-up right now, acting, writing and stand-up are all completely different disciplines, so approach them all as if you were at ground zero and square one.’ Do not assume ‘Oh, I’ve got other skills, how hard could this be?’ And it goes both ways. There are plenty of actors I’ve seen go, ‘How hard could stand-up be?’ and honestly, they are completely different disciplines and they are equally difficult to pull off.
So why did you want to do Young Adult?
I wanted to do it because they offered it to me. I don’t have a lot of choice right now about what I do. (Laughs) It’s not like, “Tell Spielberg I’ll get back to him! I want to read this Cody thing first.” It was offered to me, but I was so excited I was being given such a difficult script to do. A script that could have easily gone the wrong way if the tone wasn’t right. I wanted the challenge. I wanted to know if I could do it.
Do you have the Hollywood glaze of trying to stay away from too much lip service?
I have the glaze of not having slept in three weeks. I’m very, very lucky. I know this is going to sound so fucking cheesy, but it’s so true: my wife is so fucking awesome at spotting the ‘you don’t need to think about this’ or ‘ignore this.’ And also, I have a circle of really amazing comedian friends around me who all we do is bust each others’ balls. No matter what I do, movie or TV-wise, they’re there to remind me next week I have to go on stage again and be funny. So, no matter what you do now, you gotta just keep working, keep doing stuff, don’t get wrapped up in one fucking thing ‘cause that will kill you.