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Patton Oswalt Shows Us His Dark Side in ‘Big Fan’


patton oswalt big fan
Oswalt (left) in Big Fan

By :Billy Gil | Posted: 11 Jan 2010
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Those who have heard his comedy act know Patton Oswalt is one of the best comedians alive, revered by comedy snobs who respond to his out-of-nowhere riffs on KFC Famous Bowls, “The Christmas Shoes” and film producer Robert Evans’ sex escapades. I got the pleasure of seeing him in Los Angeles last year at an amazing, sold-out performance at the Largo Theater with fellow genius comedian Louis C.K.

The comedian gets his most notable lead role (unless you count voicing the rat in Ratatouille) in Big Fan, written and directed by The Wrestler writer Robert D. Siegel in his directorial debut. Big Fan hits DVD Jan. 12 at $26.99, from Vivendi Entertainment.

Oswalt says he doesn’t know if Siegel had him in mind when he wrote the role, but it’s not hard to see why Siegel chose him as New York Giants No. 1 fan Paul Aufiero. Oswalt perfectly encapsulates the kind of manner and lifestyle we associate with extreme fandom — working at a parking garage, living in his mother’s house at age 36 and writing out diatribes to recite on sports call-in shows late at night.

Oswalt, though, doesn’t exactly share his character’s pedigree.

“[Siegel] gave us reign to improvise, certainly, but what he realized very early was that I don’t know anything about sports,” Oswalt admitted. “But the stuff that was more personal, like the stuff between me and Marcia Jean Kurtz (who plays Paul’s mother), he was totally cool about us riffing.”

Some of the scenes between Oswalt and Kurtz are among the film’s most hilarious, with Paul teasing his mother about collecting soy sauce packets and his mother teasing him about never dating anyone, except his hand.

“I had never worked with any of [the cast] before, but they’re all such seasoned pros,” Oswalt says of the cast, which also includes Michael Rapaport and Kevin Corrigan.

Oswalt says he understands Paul’s obsession in terms of other media.

“I tend to get really wrapped up in pop culture ephemera — films, books and stuff like that,” he says. “I certainly understand that motivation and what makes people kind of subvert existence.”

After a string of TV roles — a nine-season run on “The King of Queens,” among them — Oswalt is humble about the reception Big Fan and the role has received.

“It feels great. I certainly didn’t expect it. I didn’t even know if we’d get a release after Sundance,” he says, referring to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, at which the film premiered and was widely praised. “It got a lot of great reviews, but it didn’t look like we were going to get any kind of distribution. I felt really happy for [Siegel] because I knew the kind of hell he went through. It was just kind of gratifying all around.”

Oswalt’s latest comedy release, My Weakness is Strong, was released in 2009 in a DVD/CD combo pack from WEA/Reprise.

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