Patton Oswalt talks about hosting the 29th Annual Independent Spirit Awards

Back in 2006, the Independent Spirit Awards changed up their trophy system. Before 2006, winners at the awards show would receive an acrylic glass pyramid containing suspended shoestrings that symbolized the thin budget that independent movies would typically have to work with. They then changed it up to show a bird sitting atop of a pole with that the pole wrapped in shoestrings. So obviously the next logical step would be giving the winners a living, breathing bird. Right? Well that’s the plan at this year’s 29th annual awards. The host, Patton Oswald, was able to talk with me and other reporters at a press conference, to go over his avian stunt, comedic or not, as well as talk about what an honor it is to host this prestigious event.

Patton Oswalt is very familiar with the awards process. His first hosting duties were at the 39th annual Annie Awards where he was quick on his feet, especially when something went wrong, “I’m gonna be very, very aware if somebody reads the wrong cards. He read the wrong winner and I’ll try once again try to make a screw-up like that be delightful.” Even though he’s well known as a stand-up comedian, Patton has received recognition for his acting abilities throughout the years. Many people will remember him as the voice of Remy in “Ratatouille”, but his most recent portrayal as Matt Freehauf in “Young Adult,” landed him the New York Film Critics award for best supporting actor. So it’s understandable that Patton Oswalt would be ready to host the Independent Spirit Awards, but not a lot of hosts spend their time leading up to the awards preparing themselves for birds. but that’s what he’s been doing.

“I feel pretty ready. I’ve been down to the park a lot, chasing them around, yelling at them, so we’ll see,” Patton said jokingly. There should be no worries among animal activists or organizations. Patton says the birds will be well taken care of. The real challenge for him however, may actually be having to be around a bird, “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I have a paralyzing fears of birds…I don’t think it’ll affect my performance.” Patton says he wasn’t sure what kind of birds they would have though. Or even if they would be different for each nomination. He was sure that the winners would actually be able to keep their feathered prize, “They can keep them, they can set them free. Trust me, I know actors, I know directors, there’s all kinds of things they could do with birds, some I would rather not go into.” Patton said the birds will be cage free and actually be handled by the presenters and winners. With fears extinguished, Patton returned to the jokes by reassuring everyone that if anyone’s award…I mean bird…died days, months, or years later, the contingency plan would be to give the winner a baby cougar as a replacement.

It’s not odd for a comedian to host the Independent Spirit Awards. Previous hosts have included, Sarah Silverman, Steve Coogan and Eddie Izzard. When putting the jokes aside and getting to the meat of the night, anyone would gladly tell you they really look at the Independent Spirit Awards as a venue to see some great future filmmakers and actors as well as those who are deserving of some praise. Patton was no different. He really divulged a deep passion and appreciation for the awards, “For me, being the kind of film buff I am, this award show digs pretty deep into trying to find movies that took risks and rolled the dice. It rewards people that are clearly emerging that are going to be doing great stuff with their careers. What I also love is that they keep an eye open for veterans like Robert Redford and Bruce Dern who continue to take risks and seek out challenging, different material.”

Patton further proved his love for movies by rattling off some of his favorites at this year’s awards and he was not short of praise, “The crop of films they sent me was pretty stunning. ‘The Spectacular Now’ I thought was fantastic. I hope ‘Enough Said’ wins everything it gets nominated for. The documentary ‘The Act of Killing,’ I thought it was crucial. Hard to watch, but crucial. I really hope that Bruce Dern wins for ‘Nebraska’ because I thought he was just amazing. That guy’s had awards coming for a long time in my opinion, so that would be great.” Patton says he’s spent plenty of time catching up on movies and says that he was able to catch other award nominees like “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” “Short Term 12,” and the documentary “Computer Chess.”

With millions of viewers still choosing to watch the Oscars this year, it only seemed fitting that the last question for Patton Oswalt would be if the Independent Spirit Awards is a good predictor for the Academy. He didn’t shy away from the question, “I think it goes beyond that. I think that the Independent Spirit Awards are an important predictor of who you’re going to be rooting for in the Oscars, like ten years down the road. That’s what makes it so exciting for me, that this is like giving an award to Martin Scorsese in 1971 for ‘Who’s Knocking On My Door.’ You’re seeing people at the beginning of their, I’m going to use the word journey, but it really is. These are the future masters that you’re watching when they’re young and it makes it that much more crucial and stressful for me. I really want to do well by these guys because these are the people that are going to be making movies down the road that we’re going to be fighting over at the Oscars.”

For those interested (and how can you not be?), you can catch the 29th Annual Independent Spirit Awards on IFC, Sunday, March 1st. The fun begins at 10 p.m. EST/PST.

Regan Mizrahi talks about working with Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt on “Nature Calls”

Regan Mizrahi is cos-starring with Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt in the new film “Nature Calls”. For us parents with young kids, he is also voicing the character of Boots on “Dora the Explorer”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Regan about his new film and doing voice work.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your role in the film “Nature Calls”?
Regan Mizrahi: I play Kent, a boy way older than his years. I spend the movie trying to romance Janine (Maura Tierney). Since people tell me I’m an “old soul,” this was my chance to attempt to charm an “older lovely lady.”

AL: What was it like working with Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt?
RM: I learned a lot from working on a set with comics who do stand up. Learn your lines and prepare for chaos. No scene will go as planned. You will crack up most of the day. Your mom might not be thrilled with some of the conversations you might be privy to either, but I loved it!!!!

AL: What was your favorite experience from the shoot?
RM: There was an apt I was supposed to trash with Rob Riggle and Johnny. They told me “trash everything”- no one has ever said that to me before. They had like six of everything, so they kept resetting after each trashing. I was so tired at the end of the day, but it was so much fun!

AL: What do you like most about voicing the character of Boots on “Dora the Explorer”?
RM: One of the great things about voice overs, is that you can be in your PJ’s in the booth. It’s all about your voice and your imagination. I enjoy playing Boots because I like being a positive role model for kids. I have been voicing Boots for almost five years now, so my Nickelodeon co-stars have become like family.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
RM: I presently am the CEO of the Haribo Gummy Bear TV campaign. I have just done my fifth commercial for them. I love the perks of that job “all the gummy bears you can eat!!!” i also have a few things in the works that I am excited about, but cannot talk about just yet.

Interview with Mark Patton

Mark Patton career hit it big with “Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge” and then suddendly ended, but That was only chapter one of Mark’s career. He recently resurfaced in the upcoming documentary “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” and is looking forward to acting again if the role is right. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk to Mark and ask him some questions about his career and his anticipated return to the spotlight.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell me about your journey to starring in “Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2”?
Mark Patton: I actually auditioned for the first “Nightmare on Elm Street” for the part that Johnny Depp played. Heather (Langenkamp) and I tested for that, but I didn’t get the part. When they came back around for the second one, it was the same casting director. They called me in really at the last minute and I auditioned and got the part. Prior to auditioning I had just finished a movie with Robert Altman and they were happy to get me.

Mike Gencarelli: What was the hardest part of your role as Jesse Walsh?
Mark Patton: Making a movie like “Nightmare on Elm Street”, they are very physically demanding on your body. I did all my own stunts. The work load was very strong for me. I was in practically every scene in the movie. The transformation scene, when Freddy comes out of my body was very difficult to do. Also the scene when Freddy burns up in the end and I come out of that fire, was also difficult. Those types of scenes took five or six days to shoot them. You are in that make-up for a long time. Other than that though it was a breeze. We had a great cast and I was treated very well.

Mike Gencarelli: You have expressed differences with director Jack Sholder, can you explain them?
Mark Patton: This month “Never Sleep Again” comes out and it is a documentary on the making of “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. I haven’t really given interview on “Nightmare on Elm Street” in 25 years. Over the course of the years a lot of controversy built up, especially about the gay subtext about “Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2″. Quite frankly, I dealt with a lot of negative issues for the first few years. Later in life, it changed dramatically though for the better. When you watch the movie, you can see that there is sort-of secondary storyline going on. When Jack Sholder and David Chaskin were asked about it back then, they said they had no knowledge that it was going on. In “Never Sleep Again”, David Chaskin, the writer, changes his answer to that question and finally admits; yes he was writing a subliminal message into the movie. I was very straight forward about the whole thing and I just did a Q & A that you can find on YouTube at Monster Mania Convention this March about it. Recently during the interviews and conventions I’ve done, people been really fantastic. It is amazing how many people were obviously touched by that movie but in a different way than they were meant to be.

MG: Where you ever offered to come back for another “Nightmare” sequel as Jesse?
MP: Heather, Kim (Myers) and I the only people still alive from the “Nightmare” franchise. I was never offered.

MG: You were recently featured in “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy”, how was it revisiting “Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2”?
MpG: It was amazing, it took them two years to find me. They hired a web detective and everything. I like in Mexico now. They literally found me at the last minute, flew us down and shot the documentary three days later. It was a blast. The most fun about it was that they setup a Facebook account for me, which is how we obviously got in contact. The response has been amazing, I probably get one hundred friend requests a day. Literally I am going to have to have to hire someone to take care of this soon, it getting to be so much. The people have been so amazing that have contacted me.

MG: So after you star in “Nightmare 2”, you disappeared from the spotlight and haven’t acted since, what happened?
MP: I actually quit acting shortly after “Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2”. It was due to part to the controversy surrounding the film. Many people offered me film roles after but I just turned them all down. It took the people from the documentary two years to find me, because nobody from show business was able to get find reach me.

MG: What was it like working with Cher and Robert Altman in “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”?
MP: That was such an amazing experience. That story is like a book in itself. When I was hired to do that film, my first day of rehearsals there was a thousand reporters around the set because of Cher and Robert Altman. It was a mind blowing experience. I met everyone in the world, literally everyone. I met David Bowie and Robin Williams. They all treated me as a peer so it was great. That movie has a huge cult following and it is getting ready to be released on DVD for the first time ever. I am getting ready to be a part of that DVD.

MG: Now that you are back, what is next?
MP: I have been offered quite a few movies since the documentary. I am sort of hoping they ask me to be in the next “Nightmare on Elm Street” if there is a sequel. I think it would be funny and great. I currently own a gallery in Mexico and I am very involved with a lot of artists here. I am making a documentary about a club and its history here in Mexico. I do have bookers and agents now, so if something interesting comes along. Don’t be surprised. It is funny how life turns around, you never know what is going to happen.

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