Patton Oswalt on Breaking into Acting and Auditioning For… ’12 Years a Slave’?

Patton-Oswalt-Young-AdultFor years Patton Oswalt was one of those “Hey, look, it’s that guy!” actors.  You know, the type that you’re familiar with because he or she has a unique look and has appeared in various small roles, but never had any leading roles that would make them more recognizable.  However, Oswalt has gone from that to being a well-known actor, especially after dramatic turns in dark comedies like Big Fan and Young Adult.  In an interview with Variety, Oswalt speaks about how he transitioned from comedian to professional actor, why he began seeing and acting coach, and, perhaps the most newsworthy, that he auditioned for a role in 12 Years a Slave.

While Oswalt had thought about acting and had some bit parts, he never considered it seriously until he started appearing regularly on King of Queens.  Working in that atmosphere taught he a lot, and he says, “I learned so much from watching others work out scenes and will forever thank the show for not firing me in those early seasons when I was such a horrible actor” (he even got away with remaining completely motionless during the opening scene of an episode).

Of course, most of Oswalt’s roles were extensions of his nerdy persona, so when he landed the lead role in Young Adult in which he played a former victim of a mistaken hate crime (albeit a nerdy one), he worked with an acting coach.  He found it tremendously helpful, noting, “I had always been a little leery about people doing extensive character bios and really delving into a character’s background. When I worked with her, I suddenly saw how it could all really pay off.”

Since then he continues to get numerous character actor roles, about half of which he has to audition for.  However, despite his nearly two decades of acting he doesn’t mind still being asked to audition.  He confesses, “First and foremost, I don’t want to be wrong for a movie.  Secondly, as a film buff, I love sitting in the waiting room and looking around. Like I’ll see Bruce McGill and I’ll think, ‘Wow, there’s all these great characters actors and I feel like I’m slowly joining their ranks.'”

In fact, Oswalt believes that those auditions help “train” him to become a better actor.  He reveals, “I bet I would become the worst actor in the world if I didn’t audition occasionally.  It’s like if you were a comedian and everyone laughed, no matter what, your stuff will start to stink. You have to go on the road now and then and try out new things and be with a crowd that wants to see something new. It makes you keep your stuff good.”

It has also led to Oswalt stepping out of his comfort zone and branching out to audition for dramatic roles — including, surprisingly, one of the kidnappers in 12 Years a Slave!  He uses that role as an example of himself being the “wrong choice” for the movie, pointing out, “I didn’t get the role but when I saw the guy who got it, he was great! So I never get too down about not getting a part. Casting people know what they’re doing. You want to be in a good movie, but you don’t want to suck in something great. They got the perfect person to play that role.”

As much as I like Oswalt, I’m glad he didn’t get picked for the film — I probably would’ve sat there and thought, “Hey, it’s Patton Oswalt!”

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-anna-gunn-jacki-weaver-and.jpg
Watch: Anna Gunn, Jacki Weaver and Virginia Kull on ‘Gracepoint’ and Strong Female Roles on TV
The actresses also speak candidly about how they feel about their characters in the series and why its important for TV to feature series with strong female leads.Check out the conversation above!
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-cristin-milioti-talks-a-to.jpg
Watch: Cristin Milioti Talks ‘A to Z’, ‘Once’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’
Few actresses have the kind of rise as Cristin Milioti has had in the last few years. A virtual unknown in 2011, she became a bona fide Broadway star in the 2012 hit Once, appeared in a supporting role in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, and was featured as the titular mother […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-bryan-cranstons-acting-adv.jpg
Watch: Bryan Cranston’s Acting Advice
With Breaking Bad: The Complete Series Barrel being released on Blu-ray with all kinds of goodies today, it gives us yet another opportunity to reflect on the series’ star Bryan Cranston and all of the incredible advice he has offered actors in the wake of his success. In a video he filmed in 2013 for […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/alex-sharp-curious-incident-of-the-dog.jpg
Alex Sharp Talks About His Broadway Debut in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ (video)
Alex Sharp went from working in a call-center and renovating houses to going to Julliard. And now, he’s starring in one of the most talked about shows of the season, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Check out this great, inspiring video!
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Its-only-a-play.jpg
Watch a Scene From Terrance McNally’s, ‘It’s Only a Play’, Featuring Nathan Lane and Micah Stock
Here’s a quick scene from Terrance McNally‘s It’s Only a Play, currently on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theater. In this scene, Nathan Lane and Micah Stock meet for the first time. The show, about the opening night of a new play, also stars Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, Rupert Grint and Megan Mullally.