Patton Oswalt Stops To Catch His Breath

After wrapping a stand-up tour, the actor is back on screens, twice, this week with ”I Love My Dad” in theaters and the long-awaited Netflix series, ”The Sandman”

Lately, Patton Oswalt has barely had time to catch his breath.

Less than a week after the comic-actor-writer-producer completed the final date of his stand-up tour with a show in Toronto, his new feature film, I Love My Dad, hits theaters while the highly anticipated series based on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels, for which he lent his voice, drops on Netflix.

In I Love My Dad, Oswalt plays a divorced father who decides to catfish his estranged teenage son by creating a fake online romance with an attractive young woman; what ensues is a darkly comedic take on the strain of father-son relationships as Oswalt’s hopelessly misguided dad attempts to reconnect with the young man.

Family drama is decidedly not central to The Sandman, which is based on the acclaimed comics written by Gaiman between 1989 and 1996. They tell the story of the Sandman, known as Morpheus/Dream, ruler of all visions we have when we’re asleep. After being imprisoned for decades, he embarks on a quest to recover his lost powers. For the series, Oswalt voices Matthew the Raven, one of Morpheus’ emissaries.

Oh, and speaking of Netflix—we forgot to mention that he’ll soon have a new release on the streamer of an hour-long comedy special, which was recorded during his recent standup gig in Denver.

The very busy man took some time out to speak with LAMag about his multitude of projects in different genres, the state of the comedy landscape, and only finding out days after winning a Daytime Emmy.

LAMag: As the star and a producer of I Love My Dad, what attracted you to the project and specifically to the character you play, Chuck, who’ll do just about anything to reconnect with his son?

Patton Oswalt: I just loved the fact that reading the script; you wonder how he’s going to pull it off. Is it gonna work or be a fiasco? As vile as he is…the thing that attracted me to Chuck was the whole, “don’t I get credit for wanting to do the good thing?” Thinking you get credit even though you don’t follow through with it. That, to me, felt close to home for me and kind of hilarious. 

Several of your comedy colleagues, like Rachel Dratch and Lil Rel Howery, appear in the movie. What was the atmosphere like on set with them? What about with the rest of the cast?

I’ve known Rachel for so long, and I’ve been a fan of Lil Rel since Get Out, so it definitely lightened the mood on some of the darker scenes. We were in Syracuse, New York for a month and a half, shooting in May and June of 2021. We all stayed masked and tested. There were no sets. It was very indie, run-and-gun, let’s get it done with limited money.

You just finished a standup tour, “Who’s Ready to Laugh.” How did it go? And have the recent on-stage attacks of Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle impact you in any manner?

I can’t speak for the bigger comedy world but those incidents are anomalies. Those were huge guys in emotionally charged settings, so it’s nothing I’m worried about… I don’t think I have that rabid a base of fans to be in that situation.

My last show in Toronto was really special. The vibe was great. We have been everywhere from Nebraska to New Jersey and in every place, the vibe felt like we were back together again—hopeful and energetic. There were great audiences. We had a safety protocol and they were all masked. 

What felt different to you since the last time you’d been out on the road?

To quote Bobcat Goldthwait, Twitter and the internet are not the world. People are out there trying to live their lives, not in an amped-up demolition car version of the world. They were super-fun audiences.

Talk to us about your Netflix special, We All Scream.

It’s a brand new hour of material, filmed in May in Denver. I also directed it and it’s my first directing job. It’s about life as it’s hitting me right now—it feels a little surreal after we all got distanced but we are coming back out of it. 

Image via Magnolia Pictures

Tell us about the Neil Gaiman series The Sandman and your role as Matthew the Raven. Some fans say they’ve been waiting decades for it.

It’s an incredible story about faith, dreams, and realities. It’s gorgeous, and it’s everything I wanted it to be.   

Last year’s HBO documentary series I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, about the Golden State Killer and based on your late wife, Michelle McNamara’s book about the case, had a huge impact. What was it like for you to be part of that project?

True crime is not really my wheelhouse but it felt good to bring this thing home and get the book published. Then to work with [director] Liz Garbus and HBO was like closure. It did feel like the closing of a book.

You’re part of a modern film classic, 2007’s Ratatouille, voicing Remi. How do you feel when you look back on that film?

I feel very gratified and lucky to have worked with Brad Bird and Pixar and to be in a movie that good feels amazing. As a film buff, to be in something that’s a great movie – that feels incredible.

Several of your smaller films, like Big Fan and Young Adult, have had a big impact and resonate even now. Why do you think that is?

The writers and directors of both films did a really good job connecting outside of time and place and connecting universally. You don’t need to be a sports fan or a fan of young adult novels to enjoy either of them. It’s about the emotional lives the characters are leading and that’s what makes movies last. 

When Penguin Town, which you narrated, recently won a Daytime Emmy, you posted on Instagram that you’d found out about it a week later and had better pay more attention to your career. How do you feel about your career arc and cementing your place as a writer, an actor, and a comedian?

I don’t really think about what my place is, I just like being enthusiastic and creative. That’s for other people to decide. If I thought too much about it I don’t think my work would be as good. 

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