Patton Oswalt And Robert Siegel: Serious Funny Men

Robert Siegel and Patton Oswalt on the set of 'Big Fan'

Robert Siegel (with Oswalt) sets up a shot on the set of Big Fan. First Independent Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption First Independent Pictures
Patton Oswalt in 'Big Fan' i i

Patton Oswalt plays "Paul from Staten Island," an otherwise undistinguished man who makes his mark as a regular caller to a sports-radio talk show. The part is the actor comic's first dramatic role. First Independent Films hide caption

itoggle caption First Independent Films
Patton Oswalt in 'Big Fan'

Patton Oswalt plays "Paul from Staten Island," an otherwise undistinguished man who makes his mark as a regular caller to a sports-radio talk show. The part is the actor comic's first dramatic role.

First Independent Films

Writer-director Robert Siegel wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed 2008 film The Wrestler; Patton Oswalt, the stand-up comic and actor, starred in CBS's The King of Queens and provided the voice for Remy, the main character in Pixar's food romance Ratatouille.

In 2009, the two teamed up for a sports film of sorts — a drama called Big Fan, about an obsessive 35-year-old New York Giants booster.

Oswalt's character, Paul, works as a parking-garage attendant, lives with his mom, and finds both an outlet for his passion and a minor kind of celebrity as a frequent caller on a local sports-radio show. One day, when Paul spots one of his favorite players on the street, he decides to introduce himself, but the encounter goes very wrong — and in the aftermath, Paul finds his life turned inside out.

Siegel, who's the former editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper The Onion, makes his directorial debut with the film; he and Oswalt, who's appeared in more than 20 films, join Terry Gross for a conversation about their favorite directors, their own very different levels of sports-geekery and what it's like shooting a scene in what they delicately refer to as "a gentlemen's club."

And Siegel explains why one early advertising poster for Big Fan called it "a tale of unrequited love."

This interview was first broadcast on Aug. 20, 2009

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