Most people know him as Puddy from television’s “Seinfeld.” You may recognize him from those goofy and strangely unsettling M&M’s commercials. And you will soon know him as the slow-witted superhero in the blue rubber suit, “The Tick,” on FOX. He’s enjoys being able to do the really good paying work in commercials, television and big budget motion pictures. But many of you may not know that Patrick Warburton is an indie film fan. Working in very commercial films affords him the luxury of acting in independent films that allow more creativity on an actor’s part. His real joy comes in playing parts in indie films like The Dish, The Woman Chaser and Dirt which recently premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
In Dirt Patrick plays a no-good cop who beats his wife. His character even goes a little overboard with his badge and guns down some innocent crooks. When his wife leaves him after catching him cheating on her, he’s upset that he has been embarrassed. He mercilessly beats a prisoner while confessing that he’s just not appreciated by his wife and family for the hard work he does all day. And all this time, while playing a loathsome, creepy man of the law, he is still incredibly funny and likable on screen. So, how does he make playing a bad guy seem like so much fun?
I spoke with Patrick from his home in Los Angeles as he did his best to juggle his four kids ranging in the ages of 8, 6, 3 and six months old.
Didn’t you play Superman in the Jerry Seinfeld American Express commercials? It seemed like even the drawing of Superman in the commercial definitely looked like you physically. ^ I did do the voice, yeah. What started off as kind of doing a favor for Jerry, turned into a job. You know, I’m sitting here with two sick kids right now.
Really? I suspected that you had kids, I could just see that in you. You seem very easy going and you know, there are certain things that when you have kids, they just don’t bother you anymore. ^ Well, there are certain things that just don’t seem to matter as much. For the most part, I sit around and watch “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” with my kids. They like to watch it. We sit there, watch “Animal Planet.” That’s our big night. I’ve never been one to go with trends, but I sit here and watch “Survivor” with the kids and that’s something we can all watch together. That Elisabeth, what a cutie. And that Jeri, what a c**t! Life’s gotten a lot simpler. I remember a decade ago, that’s when I got married, just before that it used to be all about goin’ out, knocking back a few beers and shooting some pool.
What’s kind of interesting about playing Superman in that commercial is that it seemed to lead to playing another superhero, the Tick. ^ Well, there’s no correlation other than the fact that they are both superheroes, but in the superhero world, they couldn’t be more different. Because the Tick is such a character. The Tick’s great fun. We shot the pilot damn near a year ago and then we shot nine episodes, but we’re not going on the air until the fall for FOX. They decided, “Hmmm, there’s going to be a strike. Hmmm, you know what, it would be great to have a brand new show go on in the fall when there will be very little original programming.”
What’s it like to be an actor who has his own action figure? ^ It’s fun with the kids which is almost old hat to them now since daddy is the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the morning on Star Command on the TV show. And I did the voice of Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove. So, they get a big kick out of it. I think when The Tick comes out, that’s going to be a whole new thing. Being that that’s real life, it’s not even animated, I just think they’re going to dig on it.
It’s good that you’ve been able to balance your career to do things that your kids can actually see. ^ Just as long as I still good to do something dangerous. I mean, films like the The Woman Chaser or Dirt or The Dish. And there are a couple of little projects coming up that are a little edgier than say, doing the voice of a Disney character in a cartoon. But you gotta hit different ends of the spectrum if you want to keep any credibility. I’m doing voiceover stuff for Burger King. But that’s it, I’m not doing any on camera advertising. I did those M&M commercials and Cadillac, they just seemed like really fun campaigns. And I didn’t seem to be grossly selling any product in those.
Well, it’s better than being an actor like Harvey Keitel when your kids can’t see any of your films. ^ (Laugh) Yeah, that’s right. (Imitating talking to his kids in soothing “dad” voice.) “Hey kids, I did a movie about a cop. Well, he’s a bad cop. Bad Lieutenant actually. Yeah, close your eyes kids. I know they’re in church but, uh…” (Laughs louder!)
Get the whole story and read part two of HELLUVA GUY: A PATRICK WARBURTON INTERVIEW>>>