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Chewing the Rat

Patton Oswalt

By Marrit Ingman, Fri., June 29, 2007

Chewing the Rat
Photo By Todd V. Wolfson

"Just being in a Pixar movie – that's the cake and the frosting on top of a Jet Ski, which is sitting on a bed of diamonds," says Patton Oswalt. "Anything that comes from this is just a bonus."

A prolific stage comic and sitcom second banana – he might be syndicated in perpetuity as Spence, the twerpy best friend from King of Queens, and also appears frequently on Reno 911! – Oswalt steps into the limelight in Ratatouille. As a rat.

"I'm that guy!" Oswalt points. "I'm on the poster. I'm a little rat."

But not just any rat. Ratatouille's Remy is a rodent gourmand, not content to eat smelly, unidentifiable trash to survive. For Remy – and perhaps for Oswalt, a self-described "foodie" – cooking is an artistic medium, a passageway to self-expression and a better life.

"I think [as] with most great artists it's something that he can't help," Oswalt says of his character. "It's not like he sits and goes, 'All right, I've got to turn the artistic part of me on.' It's happening to him all the time. So this is the only way he can express it."

He adds, "You actually enhance your life by holding out for the good stuff and not just mindlessly gobbling mediocre everything: food, relationships, jobs, anything. Can't stuff be a little elevated? On every single level."

While in town, Oswalt and Ratatouille co-star Janeane Garofalo ("We've been friends for 15 years," Oswalt says) also plied their craft onstage at Emo's as part of the Ratatouille Comedy Tour. "It was 600 people in this steam-bath of a room, and they were so great," Oswalt says. "They were so nice and fun, and we didn't want to get offstage."

Oswalt's new album Werewolves and Lollipops, out July 10 on Sub Pop, was also recorded in Austin at Cap City Comedy Club in late 2006.

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