Pin It

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/2014/09/watch-david-mamet-in-the-1976-sh.jpg
Watch: David Mamet in the 1976 Short Documentary ‘The Playwright Directs’
Though David Mamet is best known for his distinctive writing style in his scripts for the stage and screen, he has also directed theater and film. The 1976 short documentary titled The Playwright Directs depicts Mamet directing actors through several scenes at an almost frantic pace, dispensing pearls of wisdom throughout, like his thoughts on […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-marvels-agents-of-s-h-i-e.jpg
Watch: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Bloopers
Forgetting lines? Corpsing? Delivering lines in Spanish? Unruly props? All in a day’s work on the set of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, apparently. Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, and the rest of the cast find plenty of humor while playing super-serious secret agents in the Marvel Universe. While you’re waiting for season 2 of the series […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/audtion-tapes-robin-wright-and-h.jpg
Audition Tapes: Robin Wright and Haley Joel Osment Audition with Tom Hanks for ‘Forrest Gump’
Check out Robin Wright auditioning for the role of Jenny from Forest Gump opposite Tom Hanks. Interestingly enough, Hanks doesn’t quite have Gump’s southern drawl down just yet while the other actors audition with him. In fact, Hanks would base Gump’s voice on the voice of Michael Conner Humphreys, who played the young Forrest and […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-judi-dench-sing-send-in-th.jpg
Watch Judi Dench Sing “Send In The Clowns” From Back in 1995
Dame Judi Dench has such a commanding presence as a film actress that it’s easy to forget that her big break came on stage in England with the Old Vic Company in 1957. In fact, she made her Broadway debut the very next year when the Old Vic Company performed Twelfth Night and Henry V […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/bryan-cranston-emmy-award-speech.jpg
Watch: Bryan Cranston’s Emmy Award Speech: “I love to act. It is a passion of mine and I will do it until my last breath.”
The Emmy Awards weren’t the most exciting awards show this year but with Bryan Cranston winning for Outstanding Actor in a Drama for Breaking Bad, we at least got to hear one heck of a fantastic acceptance speech. “I was a kid who always looked for the shortcut,” he said. “I did happen to stumble […]