Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:December 25th, 2006 08:10 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Patrick Warburton, Seinfeld

Judyth Piazza chats with Patrick Warburton, Seinfeld

By Nancy Lee Wolfe (HR Development/Content Manager)


Patrick, it`s a pleasure to have you on the show.

Well, hello, Judy, it`s a pleasure to be here. 

Well, you`ve had an amazing career.  Can you tell us a little bit about what makes Patrick spark? 

Primarily, I guess what motivates me to work is I have four kids I have to put through college, how about that?  (laugh) 

I enjoy what I do.  I really feel like I somewhat lucked out in a very competitive business.  I never did well in school, really.  I did a year and a half of junior college and, for the most part, didn`t put together the type of grades that I needed to make the transfer to a worthwhile university and ended up going the acting route -- just because I was inspired in my youth watching mom do community theater and what not " that inspired me.  So, that`s how I went into the business I went into.  Fortunately, I`ve managed to make a living; but, you know, it`s hit and miss.  You have your slow years and your productive years but it`s been pretty good, I`d say the last decade or so.

If a young person were to approach you today and say that they wanted to be an actor, what advise would you give them?

Well, I would say do your actor`s workshops and showcase.  Do plays, do theater.  It`s a lot of fun, it`s the best training.  And it`s something I haven`t done in a long time and " I somewhat, if not a lot -- miss.  It`s just that with theater you really have to be dedicated because it doesn`t tie in " it takes you away from your family, if you have one. 

Theater`s great for the single actor who can travel, go on the road with the show or production, dedicate long hours for relatively little pay; but, you get a whole lot of satisfaction out of it and it`s the best way, really, to grow as an actor is to be working in theater, I feel.

Who were some of your mentors that have helped along the way? 

Well, there`s one man, David Barrett, who was an acting coach in the early days.  And, we actually did a little film together a few years back that ran on the film festival circuit for awhile called The Civilization of Maxwell Bright " and it`s the most challenging little piece of film I`ve ever done and work I`ve ever done.  I would definitely say that he was a mentor. 

Now I know you have a new film that`s debuting this weekend.  Can you tell us a little bit about it? 

I`ll Believe You " is the new title of the film -- you know the working title for the last two and a half years, I guess, was First-Time Caller " "- and they`ve changed the name of the film to I`ll Believe You. "

But, it`s about a guy who has a radio show and is a time traveler.  It`s really a cool little movie " we shot it in Melborn, FL a few years ago --a couple of years ago.  It was made for about a million dollars, I guess, and it`s going out on 1,500 screens in March which is a huge release for a little film.

Everybody felt really good about how this movie turned out.  And they are great people in it " Chris Elliot, Fred Willard, you know, a great cast and it was fun to do.  So, it`s neat to see the kind of success they`re going to have with this little film.

How did you like Melbourne, FL?

It was great.  I was there for one of the biggest lightening storms they`ve had in some time.  I know it`s not a rare occurrence to get a lightening storm in that part of the world but this one was so radical when we were there an we shot that it made the front page of paper the next day.  And there were somewhere around 3,000 strikes that night or something, something absurd.  And you couldn`t go to sleep that night.  It was like a continual flash outside the window and very loud.

Well I`m a huge Seinfield fan, like I told you earlier.  Can you tell us what it was like working on the set of Seinfield?

A lot of people are under the impression I did more episodes than I did.  I only did 9 regular season shows " ten including the final episode.  And when I was there "I always just sort of "felt very ".uh ".how do you say this?  How did I get invited to this party? "

You know, at that point it was the show everybody was watching and you just felt like it was cool just to be able to be there " to be a part of it.  Sort of hallowed ground, you know -- walking around with Michael Richards and Jerry Seinfield and Julie and Jason.

Most the half-hour TV you do, after the night it airs, just falls into obscurity and already Seinfield had made such an impression and people were so into it.  We watched it, my wife and I, religiously on Thursday night for years before I ever got the chance to be on the show. 

I don`t remember any really great antidotes, stories or silly things that happened on the set.  I just always remember feeling very lucky to be there and glad that they invited me back.  And we didn`t spend vast amounts of time on the set.  Those days were short.  They had it worked out that the work week " it`s a pretty short week " it`s like a four day work week, you know. 

You`d sit down and read the script, you might rehearse for just a couple or a few hours, run through each scene quickly, maybe do a run-through.  Do that for a couple of days, camera block that third day and then shoot the show in front of an audience the fourth day.  So, the compiled hours on that show " it wasn`t a lot of time. 

So, what does your family think about all your fame? 

I have four kids who I`m just Dad to.  They think it is fun that I do cartoon voices, you know, that`s what they get a kick out of.  This stuff for Disney " had some fun cartoon movies out " Hoodwinked " --  I did the Wolfe in that; The Emperor`s New Groove " " and a number of cartoons that are on TV right now, there are a number of, I guess, animated features that are coming out that I worked on or have come out this last year that I worked on. 

It keeps me really busy.  It keeps me as busy as anything " doing voice-over work " and it`s fun because the kids really get a kick out of it.  I think the two younger ones are still more into that than the older ones but they still think it`s cool.  But they do get embarrassed if I threaten to go to their school and talk about it.  (laughing) 

Tell us about some of the new projects you`re working on now

A B " movie with Jerry Seinfield -- it`s an animated feature that DreamWorks is doing.  It really fun and clever " and it`s great to get to work with Jerry again.  That`s one of those pinch yourself " moments.

Usually when you go in to do animation, you`re just in a room and you`re just working by yourself.  I still want to get to work with Jerry.  I still " to me, it always reminds me about how lucky and special it is to get to work in this business and to get to work with somebody like Jerry Seinfield " it`s just a great opportunity. 

He`s such a talent and I`m just such a fan of the man " so when I get to, you know " like two weeks ago I was just in a room with him for two or three hours while we`re working on stuff " just to see him get inspired and make things happen, to re-write things right there " you know, to laugh, to say, that worked " it`s just such an inspiring and motivational type of process and his instincts are so great that, you know, that`s an opportunity that just doesn`t come along very often.

I`m working on a B " movie with Jerry.  There`s another animated film coming out called Half Way Never After " in January that I did.  Then I have the two live-actions pictures coming out next year.  One is I`ll Believe You " which was initially titled First Time Caller " and but now it`s I`ll Believe You " 

Then Underdog " which I shot with Disney in Providence, RI for the better part of four months this summer " but that was a lot of fun.  I did that with Peter Dinklage and Frederik Du Chau, he directed it.  It`s a little bit darker, it`s PG, so it`s a little darker for a Disney movie but it should be fun. 

Well, you`ve had a very successful life so far.  Tell us what key quality you believe all successful people share. 

Oh, um, tenacity?  How about that?  I mean I`ve got to believe that`s one of the things that helped work for me.  Because I`m not an out-of-the-gates guy, you know.  I mean, even in the first scene every time I shoot a half-hour TV show, I always feel a little bit off and not exactly 100% comfortable.

My whole career, I think, has sort of been like that " sort of slow going but, you know, get up to pace.  You got to have endurance.  You`ve got to be tenacious and have endurance and, you know, you can`t let anything keep you down.  You got to keep coming back.  I don`t know -- I know very few people who have dealt with the amount and level of rejection that I have.  It`s a little less now; but, I mean in the early days, year after year of, Well, the audition went well.  They`re going in another direction. "

It`s something that you have to become almost numb to " especially when it happens over and over again " you do get numb to it and you got to be tough.  You just got to keep getting out there.

I guess through that, too, one of the things I learned was that it`s really easy to want to do things the right way " try to figure out what the right way is " and instead of relying upon your instincts and being tuned to with what your instincts are and doing it your way and saying, well, now this is strictly as an actor, I mean, there are other ways you have to conform in the business world; but, as an actor, it makes more sense to originate something.  To say, Well, I`m going to do it this way. "  And then, that way, when 100 people come in and they`re reading for the same role or what not, if you do it " something unique and you make it your own and you invent something " that`s what`s going to make you stand out to the producers and director and say, hey, there`s this, this, this and this and then there`s another way, this way, you know?

Well, I am looking forward to meeting you this weekend at the Melbourne Film Festival.

Well, I`m looking forward to meeting you, too.  It will be fun.

I`ve enjoyed having you on the show and I hope you will come back.

Thanks you so much.  I shall.

To listen to the audio version: