Saturday, 10 December 2011

Young Adult opens this weekend - new interviews with Patton Oswalt

Young Adult opens in a limited release this weekend and Patton Oswalt has given a gazillion interviews in the last couple of weeks.

On the news front, last week Patton was nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for "Finest Hour" - big congrats! - and, this week, Deadline included him among the frontrunners for an Oscar in the best supporting actor category, along with - brace for a holy frak - Ben Kingsley, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Spacey, Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer. From the article:
Perhaps best known as a stand-up comedian and the voice of the lead rat in Pixar’s Ratatouille, Oswalt is quickly establishing his credentials as a serious actor, first in the critically acclaimed indie film The Big Fan and now on a larger scale as a lonely man whose life was defined by an unfortunate incident in high school. His scenes opposite Charlize Theron are awkward, funny, poignant and memorable.
Hollywood Reporter has a round-up of critics' reactions to the film and the photos from the New York premiere. Below are some of the many interviews Patton did in recent days.

Patton Oswalt waxes nostalgic for 'Young Adult'
Screenwriter Diablo Cody fits so many pop culture references into her work and you’ve discussed so much pop culture in yours, so how do your two viewpoints relate to each other?
“Juno” was, whether you like it or not, a pretty accurate depiction of how young people talk to each other … This movie [“Young Adult”], if you notice, there’s not as much pop culture bric-a-brac in the dialogue because this is more about Gen X getting older and moving towards 40 and 45 and 50 and what do they have to jettison and what do they still hold on to? I think they remember being so self-conscious about people that were baby boomers and how stupid they sounded using their old slang and now they’re almost over thinking, “Do I say the stuff I used to say?” So again, like it or not, it is a very accurate portrait of, “this is how Gen X gets older.” If you thought the baby boomers grew old in a really clumsy way, wait till you see how we do it.

Much of the film has to do with sentimentality and trying to bring the past into the present. Are you ever tempted to do that?
It’s very dangerous. I’m just as guilty of it as anyone else. I think Frank Zappa said, “some day we’re all going to die of nostalgia.” Nostalgia is also an anagram for lost again. You have to keep moving forward because a big part of life is loss. Things fall away and it’s very childish to turn away from that. I have mixed feelings about it because I can say what I just said and then when I’m done with this day, I know I’m going to wind down by listening to Juliana Hatfield’s “Hey Babe” and old Elvis Costello and Supergrass and just kind of then be awash in those memories. It’s almost like if you want the same good times to keep happening, that’s what’s dangerous. Good times can keep happening, just not the same ones and if you expect to be the same person having the same good time, then that’s also really dangerous.

Patton Oswalt on 'Young Adult,' Charlize Theron, and His Twitter Friends
Oswalt hired Nancy Banks, an acting coach, and spent two months poring over the script, studying every aspect of the character’s life and world, as well as living in the leg braces to which Matt is condemned, learning how to walk naturally as someone who walks in total discomfort. Oswalt described the tedious preparation process. “I wish I could tell you something romantic, like De Niro says he would go swimming and look at the crabs under water to get Travis Bickle in his head. Instead, I sat down with this goddamn script and I wrote it out. Nancy Banks is all about there’s no flighty poetic bullshit, you just work the script over and over until it’s second nature. We wrote out the police report, we wrote out the memories Matt had. Think of it, you’re in high school, you’re young, your friends are out getting laid, and you’re in a fucking hospital. All those years are gone. And you’re stuck in this goddamn hospital and they probably do some cheesy Christmas pageant and you’re stuck there.”

Kevin McCarthy's Interview with Young Adult Star Patton Oswalt:

Patton Oswalt: Filming love scene with Charlize Theron for ‘Young Adult’ was a ‘nightmare’ - The Washington Post
Shooting a love scene with Charlize Theron would be a dream come true for many actors, but for Patton Oswalt, who co-stars with the Oscar-winning actress in the new movie “Young Adult,” the experience was “a nightmare.”

“Why do I have to be in my underwear next to the most physically perfect person on the planet? Why couldn’t I have been next to John Goodman or Michael Moore in their underwear?” said Oswalt at the film’s premiere Thursday night. “It was a dream that turned into a nightmare.”

Oswalt digs deep for serious turn in 'Young Adult'
"Diablo wrote such a good script and such a nuanced script that there were a million ways to steer it in the wrong direction," says Oswalt, whose increasingly diverse credits include HBO Canada's "Bored to Death," The Movie Network/Movie Central's "United States of Tara" and the Adult Swim series "The Heart, She Holler."

"That's what I was most worried about -- that I would kind of fumble some of the transitions between the darkness and then the lightness, which I think are handled so brilliantly. Just when I first sat down and read the script I was like, 'Oh boy, I don't want to fumble this.' It's the combination of, 'Oh I'm so thrilled to get offered this,' and 'Oh man, I don't want to mess this up."'

Patton Oswalt Was Once a Young Adult, Has Aged, Reflects
Is there anything that you actually miss about your own coming-of-age era?
One thing that everyone misses about their high school years is how young, healthy, and slim they were. "Things were so much better in '86." Yeah, because you were 16! The one thing that I do kind of miss is that we didn't have Wikipedia and IMDb, and you couldn't go find every shred of information on everything in five minutes. You had to be open to going out, talking to people, and getting different perspectives. How you interact with other people really forms how you are, and you had to do so much more of that in the '80s, whereas now, it's almost like we're programming Asperger syndrome into the culture. I worry what the effects of that will be.

Still, technology has been kind to you. You have more than half a million Twitter followers. Do you think social media is a welcome distraction, or is it some out-of-control amoeba that's going to swallow us whole?
Oh boy, they're both absolutely right. The problem is, and I'm just as guilty of this, a lot of people see their follower count increase and mistake that for friendships. It's great to have followers, especially if you want to sell albums, promote shows, or promote your friends, but you still need to get outside and talk to other human beings. There are times when I have to take, I call it a "silence bath," where I shut off all of the external gadgets. I go walk around, talk to people, and just live life for a while. When I'm done promoting this movie, I have nothing on the calendar for the next few months. I'm trying to defend those empty boxes so that I can take my daughter to a restaurant or go with my friends somewhere, so that I can have things to talk about.

Patton Oswalt on Young Adult, Great Chemistry and the Downside of Nostalgia
Young Adult is an interesting commentary on nostalgia, as if to say that the generation that came of age in the late ’80s/early ’90s is either too cynical for nostalgia or just knows it’s better to move on. Where do you think the film stands? Where do you stand?
I think they’re too cynical to acknowledge nostalgia, but they’re just as guilty of it — if not more — than generations that came before them. Unlike generations that came before them, because they were constantly recontextualizing and mashing up and being meta and post-ironic and postmodern about the stuff they loved as they were loving it, it truly never did go away.

This movie is very much about Generation X approaching 40 and how they’re doing it — and they’re not doing it very well, I don’t think. And because we grew up much like the vile bodies of the 1920s, where it all about, “You can act bored, but you’d better never be boring.” But there’s nothing more boring than approaching your mid-40s. And there’s also nothing more pathetic than realizing, “I need some simple comforts right now. I need a song I love. I need a movie I sank myself into. I need an old coat that I liked.” There’s that kind of double tragedy going on.

Patton Oswalt: Actor discusses 'Young Adult' role
Q: "Young Adult" is hard to classify. A dark romantic comedy?
A: It has the framework of your standard rom-com, but the materials put over the framework are so dark and real and actually what a rom-com would look like in real life, which is a little psychotic and sad.

It's a dark and a fascinating ride. It'll be interesting to see how people react to its gravity. It's got a sort of white-dwarf pull to it.

Q: Had you known Reitman or Cody before this?
A: I knew Diablo because I was in "United States of Tara." I actually saw "Rambo" with her when it came out, which was really fun, a bunch of us went. We really got along. Jason - we met at some awards ceremony and started gabbing about movies and French bulldogs. Then he started having me over for his movie night - he has these great screenings at his house every Sunday.

Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, and Screenwriter Diablo Cody YOUNG ADULT Interview
Which is an actor or director who’s work you really admire, and when you go back to watch, you are just constantly amazed at their work?
Theron: Jason Reitman. I mean I really — I don’t know how the gods kind of worked it out, that I ran into him at the time that I did, and that Diablo had sent him this script at the time that she did. He read it, and kind of responded and thought of me. Then we kept running into each other. I’d never seen the guy in my life in L.A. and then all of a sudden everywhere I went I saw him. It was really bizarre. I’ve seen all of his movies, loved all of his movies, but Up in the Air really struck a cord with me. I was secretly somewhat obsessed, and it was within a six-month period. I love Christopher Buckley’s Thank You for Smoking. I love what he did with that adaptation. I don’t know I just really like his work. I think some people emotionally tap into things the same way you do, and Jason taps in emotionally the same way I do. That’s all I think of right now fresh off my mind. A very creative answer wasn’t it? Him and Fellini, to make me sound smarter.
Oswalt: You think Fellini’s a form of pasta don’t you? It’s weird and this is cyclical thing for me, but I’m on this weird Michael Powell kick again. Every few years I go back and just get immersed in his movies. I just watched Black Narcissus again and The Red Shoes, and Colonel Blimp. Now I’m starting to realizing just through my behavior of how I watch movies, that he’s the guy that I didn’t realize I was so obsessed with all these years. That’s the guy I just keep going back to. I can’t help it.

Q&A: Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt (<- Check out the pics!)
How would you characterize Mavis and Matt’s relationship?
Theron: They’re such an odd couple. I think the isolation that Mavis feels, being back in this small town with no friends, gives her license to actually hang out with this guy who was a high-school pariah back in the day. There doesn’t seem to be a sense of “I’m gonna score!” from Matt’s perspective, so with that expectation off the table, they feel like they can actually talk to each other honestly. I think Jason said it best: It’s a skewed love story about people who find each other because of the things they mutually hate.
Oswalt: And because Mavis has always been pretty and popular, she’s never had anyone who looks like him talk to her with such brutal honesty. Mavis actually needs someone who will realistically call her on her shit. They are the only sounding boards in each other’s life. In a weird way, I think that Mavis is almost a heroic character to Matt.
Theron: Really?
Oswalt: Because she refuses to accept the fact that loss is part of being an adult. She has this idea that, Oh, don’t worry about little things like my ex-boyfriend is now married with a kid; I can turn it around. Matt knows she’s on a fool’s errand, but there’s a part of him that’s thinking: Does that mean that I could pull off something equally stupid and futile? There’s almost something admirable in her delusional refusal to acknowledge reality.
Theron: It’s exactly how a 16-year-old would think: “Of course I can have everything! Of course I can be a princess and a doctor!” [Both laugh] She’s good at being a young-adult novelist for a reason: She knows that mind-set all too well.

Exclusive: Patton Oswalt Talks French Bulldogs and Jason Reitman
So thankful to just get a film no less with Theron and Reitman, Oswalt said, “I got to know Jason through just, we both love film; we both own French bulldogs. So that’s kind of how we got to know each other. And then I started doing these table reads early for the script, so you know.

But as far as my intentions, I just – I’m so beyond like genre, drama, comedy – I just want to do really good, interesting projects. And that can mean something like this script, which was so good when I read it, so good; or something like that little adult swim show that I just did, which was the most bizarre, but also a great script and a – just stuff that constantly rolls the dice down the felt and just goes for it. And this – man, this script went for it. So I was, you know, I – hopefully, someday, if I’m ever at a point where I have the luxury of intention, I will make the right choices. But so far I’ve been lucky enough that the choices I have been given have been really, really good.”

Interview: Patton Oswalt on Young Adult

Q: Regardless of whether it’s gender based or sexually oriented or whatever, Don’t you think a war on bullying is like a war on terror? Isn’t it human nature at that age?
Oswalt: I think the best way to stop bullying is to teach every individual kid – whether they’re gay, straight, Christian, atheist, whatever – that guys, it’s a gigantic world out there. Where you are now is not the world. If you don’t fit in, go out. There are plenty of people just like you. They’re everywhere. You’re the girl in the bee costume in that video. And there’s a field of bees out there. Trust me, you’ll find them. I almost feel like, if every high school kid at a certain age in all countries had to spend one year living in a different country with a different family, everybody would just calm the fuck down. The world is so god damn huge. It doesn’t matter. I was lucky enough that – I’m not saying I was smart – me and some other friends, for some lucky reason, I always had an inkling even when things got bad in high school that I knew, ‘I’m not even gonna see these people. It doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t give a shit.’ And it’s weird. A year after high school, if you run into anyone you went to high school with, you all have this unspoken like, ‘What the fuck was that all about? I’m sorry man. Was I a dick? I think I was a dick.’ It’s an unrealistic environment that you’re all shoved into basically.

Patton Oswalt, 'Young Adult' Star, Has A Message For High Schoolers
Indeed, Matt pities himself enough that, as harsh as it may seem, the audience's sympathy for him begins to wear thin. Mavis, of course, voices the audience's sentiments, calling out his woe-is-me attitude with a harsh reality check that Oswalt says is quite vital, both to his character and to the message he's trying to send off-screen.

"By being Matt, I'm saying a lot of things. And I'm saying it on both ends," he says. "I'm saying, 'Yeah, look at what fear and violence creates. But then also, look at what ultimately the one thing you have that your abusers do not have is: they have more liberty to hurt you, but you have more freedom to choose how it affects you. And you can change that.' That's kind of what I hope to say with that character."

The most important parallels between the permanent adolescence of "Young Adult" and high school, he advises in his imagined plea to teenagers, is this: both have endings, and both are fictional.

"I don't even want to tell people, 'It gets better,'" Oswalt says, alluding to the famed anti-teen suicide campaign. "I want to just go, 'It's over in four years.' It's, literally, the day after you graduate, you could run into people you went to high school with and you will literally both go, 'What the f*ck was that all about? Jesus Christ, I'm sorry, man.' It literally ends like that, if you let it. Because you know what everyone is in high school, whether you're gay or straight or male or female, you know what you are? You're a f*cking high schooler! And a high schooler is an unnatural state of existence, and it's not humanity, and it's not real life."
And Jimmy Fallon:

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