With a name like that, you’d expect Patton Oswalt to be ordering US army tank divisions across the Rhine, or at the very least directing zero-budget mumblecore features for the super-hip market – but no, Oswalt is in fact an amazingly hardworking comic who has been in scores of films and TV shows since the early 1990s, as well asmaking a bunch of HBO and Netflix comedy specials – very popular and very funny.
You’d certainly recognise him if you saw him: from his first walk-on TV part as a video store clerk in an episode of Seinfeld, Oswalt has appeared on nearly every comedy show from Flight of the Conchords to Futurama, Bob’s Burgers to Parks and Recreation. He played comic book nerd Spence in The King of Queens, Agent Koenig (and his brothers) in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and serial sex harasser Teddy Sykes in Veep.
But who cares about TV, right? Film is the big dog, and Oswalt has got plenty of points up on the board. He has done quite a bit of animation voice work – most notably Remy the rat-chef in the hit Pixar comedy Ratatouille, plus Max the jack russell in The Secret Life of Pets 2 – as well as classics like A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and Balls of Fury. I jest of course: he was robbed of an Oscar nomination for his role in Young Adult (as Charlize Theron’s old school pal), and played the “world’s biggest New York Giants fan” in the aptly named Big Fan.
One really surprising off-piste detail: Oswalt played a role in nailing the Golden State Killer, completing his wife Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, after her sudden death in 2016. It was eventually published in 2018, raising awareness of the case, just two months before the arrest of serial murderer Joseph James DeAngelo.
Now he’s got a new film on the way: I Love My Dad, where he plays a confused dad who catfishes his own son (all based on a real-life incident, we are led to believe, that happened to writer/director/co-star James Morosini). Oswalt is as great as ever, and there’s plenty to ask him, so get typing and post your questions below by noon on 13 January – and we’ll print the best answers on Friday 20 January.