Thursday, August 2, 2007

Underdog An Exclusive Interview with Patrick Warburton

Note some of the following uses material released from the film’s production notes.

UNDERDOG is the story of how a nation found a savior in the least likely of forms: a humble, lovable Beagle who becomes a flying hero who can fight crime while speaking in playful rhyme.

UNDERDOG features a cast of both canine and human talent, including Jim Belushi (“According to Jim”), Jason Lee (“My Name Is Earl”), Patrick Warburton (“Seinfeld”), Peter Dinklage (“Elf,” “The Station Agent”), Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Academy Award® nominee Amy Adams (“Junebug.”), along with rising young actors Alex Neuberger and Taylor Momsen (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”). But the real stars of the film are the adorable, well-trained dogs who win the day, including Leo the Lemon Beagle in the role of Shoeshine/Underdog; Ginger, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as Polly Purebred; as well as Bronco the Rottweiler as the villainous Riff Raff

When a sinister plot by Barsinister and his overgrown henchman Cad (Warburton), threatens to destroy Capitol City, only Underdog can save the day.

Patrick Warburton (Cad) is well known for his role on the hit comedy “Seinfeld” as Puddy, Elaine’s enigmatic, on-again, off-again boyfriend who broke up with her at least 12 times in one episode. His television credits also include such series as “Dave’s World” and “NewsRadio” as well as playing the title character of the cult superhero comedy “The Tick.” He has been the long-running voice of Joe on the popular FOX animated series “Family Guy,” was also the voice of the Savior of the Universe on the Disney Saturday morning TV series “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command” and can be heard as Mr. Barkin on the Disney Channel’s “Kim Possible.” Warburton currently stars in the hit CBS show “Rules of Engagement” opposite David Spade and Oliver Hudson, which returns for its second season in September 2007.

On the big screen, Warburton has been seen in a wide variety of films. His comic ease has made him popular with comedy directors and his recent voice roles include “Kronk” in “The Emperor’s New Groove” and a new version of the Big Bad Wolf in “Hoodwinked.” Warburton also lends his voice to the big screen in the highly anticipated film “Bee Movie” (November 2007), where he plays Renee Zellweger’s boyfriend as she tries to win the heart of Jerry Seinfeld. In live-action movies, he has traversed from blockbusters to indie comedies and dramas with credits that include “Men in Black II,” “The Dish,” “Joe Somebody,” “Angels in the Infield,” “Big Trouble” and “The Woman Chaser.” Warburton also stars in a mystery/comedy about a hunt for an alleged alien living in a small town in the movie “I’ll Believe You” hitting theaters September 2007.

I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Patrick talking about all kinds of things, from his upcoming movie Bee Movie with Jerry Seinfield and Renee Zellweger to new live action family feature, Underdog. Patrick was easy going and very personable, offering information and sharing things that were somewhat unexpected. Enjoy the interview of this, one of the hardest working voices in Hollywood, Patrick Warburton.

Mike Furches (MF): I have 15 minutes so I want to respect your time and jump right into it. Do you know anything about the web site I write with?

Patrick Warburton (PW): Nope

MF: Don’t let it scare you but I write for a web site called Hollywood Jesus.

PW: Yea I know the name of the website, sure.

MF: While confusing to some people we really do try to stay away from overtly religious themes, we probably won’t be going there at all. It’s not normally my style anyway. Right off the bat though, how’s life treating you?

PW: Life is good, work is great but first and foremost is that the family is well and I have four absolutely, stunning, wonderful, beautiful, brilliant children, a great and wonderful wife who is also a tremendous mother to my children. That’s right, my children. Now I’m an actor and that is my ego talking right there. (laughter between the both of us here.) Notice I don’t say our children, but my children. (more laughter) I’m just joking. Yea, so all is well.

MF: It seems like it is a little different for you and others, if not mistaken you have been married since 1991?

PW: Yea

MF: So your marriage has been going on for quite some time. How important is family to you?

PW: I’ve been married for 16 years. I believe that is 63 years in Hollywood Years. (laughter between the two of us.) It doesn’t get quite that 7:1 ratio of dog years, still, it’s very, very impressive.

MF: So your family has obviously been important to you?

PW: I have actually 3 sons and one daughter.

MF: You have the balance then?

PW: What’s that?

MF: You have the balance then?

PW: Yes

MF: 3 boys in the house and 2 girls, four boys in the house counting you and 2 girls?

PW: Yea, but we also have 4 dogs, and they are all female. So the females rule our house, there is a true female balance.

MF: People should know who Patrick Warburton is, certainly after they see your resume they will know for sure who you are, but many likely won’t know for sure who you are. What can you tell us about yourself?

PW: People don’t really need to know who I am. I walk around with a level of anonymity, I’m just an actor who tends to work on a somewhat regular basis.

MF: Can you tell us a little about yourself and some of the work you’ve done?

PW: Oh gee, do you want to full resume? (laughing)

MF: (laughter as well) we don’t have all that much time.

PW: I can tell you some of the best experiences in my career, some of the most fulfilling projects. The most fun roles I have ever gotten to play has been Puddy in Seinfield, The Tick in the TV series. Some of best film experiences have been movies like The Dish or The Woman Chaser. I have an important film for me coming out called The Civilization of Maxwell Bright. This is actually a really gritty piece for me and it is hard to watch at times. It’s a film about redemption with a pretty powerful story. The film has garnered some nice awards at festivals and it has been a really positive thing to be a part of. It is coming out in late September. I’m not so sure but there has actually been good response for the film from people I know that I would consider to be rather conservative Christians. Now halfway into this movie one would think that I was on drugs to believe that or to even say that. It is a picture though where there is quite a bit of transition that goes on in the film itself. It can be rather off putting and shocking in the beginning. (some laughter here.)

MF: I’ll look forward to that because that is the type of film I tend to look for. Sometimes I get some of those Christians pretty upset at me. One of my favorite films of last year was Black Snake Moan. That tells you a little bit about where I am coming from regarding stories about redemption. I appreciate the fact that actors can play characters in reality. They don’t have to sugar coat anything. I look forward to the film.

PW: You know in The Civilization of Maxwell Bright, the opening scene my character, and a woman, we don’t know who these people are, come storming out of a house stark naked and their fighting. They’re really pissed at each other and in each others face. They are so incensed that they don’t really care that they are in some suburban neighborhood arguing naked while going down the street. It’s brief but there’s full nudity there for a second. It’s brief, but it does establish where this man is in his life at this time. I did realize when talking to the director that this was something that we couldn’t cheat. That is how this film actually opens, it goes somewhat down hill from there but not in regards to nudity or anything like that. It certainly is not something that is erotic I didn’t go out there and shoot Caligula but it was something that took some consideration from me to make this movie and to do this. I wasn’t sure if it was something that I would ever do but I loved the opportunity to play this role, this character and I thought it was a powerful story about redemption. These aren’t opportunities that just tend to fall in my lap and come my way. I’m usually playing silly or more comical characters. This was on the entire other end of that spectrum.

I was impressed with traveling with this film across the country and even Dublin Ireland with it, to film festivals in Canada, Florida, New York, and Seattle to California and all over the place about the audiences’ reception of the film. It has been wonderful. It’s a gritty little film that was made for very little money. A little independent production and it has been kind of a long journey with this one. It was in the film festival circuit for about a year and half or two years. It’ll have a very minor opening into a few markets in September.

MF: I’ll try to look for it. One of the things a little different about myself is that I don’t consider myself a reviewer. I’m just a guy who happens to love movies and I appreciate the fact that regular people like the things that I do and say. Things like Independent Film, especially with those types of themes, are things that I personally appreciate.

Kind of on a side, with that, how important do you see film? It seems like you are kind of blessed to be in a medium where there can be an impact that you can have that people just don’t always seem to understand.

PW: It’s true it is a medium where you can have some impact. First off, I am blessed that I get to do this for a living. It never really ceases to surprise or amaze me that this is what I get to do. I guess to that there is not really anything that I am prepared to do anything else at this point. I mean 2 years of a Junior College education doesn’t really qualify me at this point. I’d probably have to go back to school for something. So I am a very lucky man I get to work in different genres of the field, I get to do cartoons, I get to do movies, everything else. It’s fun! Also, I get to be home most of the time. Most of the work I do is in the Los Angeles area. There are actors that spends a lot of their career doing one hour TV, those are 12 hour days, they’re on location all of the time, they’re never around. I’m there; I’m with my family most of the time. Underdog is one of the longest times that I was on location. We were on location in Providence Rhode Island. I was there for the better part of three and one half months. That’s a big trip for me. I was able to journey back and forth a bit and brought the family out. It was a lot of time to spend away from the family.

MF: You have another movie that’s coming out, another animated film with Jerry Seinfield and Renee Zellweger. Tell us a little bit about that film that will be coming out soon as well.

PW: The Bee Movie has been another movie that has been a lot of fun to work on because usually when you are doing voice over recording you’re isolated, your in a sound booth, isolated and by yourself, recording by yourself. Jerry is a very hands on creator and producer. He is involved in this project from the top to the bottom. I’ve probably gone in and recorded for The Bee Movie for maybe ten sessions or so. Every time I have gone in, Jerry has been there. Every time I have gone in, I have worked opposite of Jerry. First off, it is fun to work with Jerry, it gives you more confidence when you are working with Jerry and you know he is going to get what it is he wants. This animated project will certainly have Jerry’s signature all over it. You’ll be able to tell from the humor and the way the characters interact, it will have a Seinfield touch and it’s neat to be a part of that.

MF: In the advances and the preliminary trailers I have seen it looks like it is going to mega hit.

PW: It’s a lot of fun and I think it is truly one of those films that is animated, the kids are going to dig it, and it’s going to have enough adult humor to be one of those cross the borders.

MF: I’ve got to ask you this, yourself and another famous character was born the same year, came on scene in the same year, and now you have the privilege to be in a movie about that character. Obviously that character is?

PW: Underdog! (laughter)

MF: I grew up watching Underdog religiously.

PW: (laughing) Oh did you?

MF: Oh yea, I don’t know how one could be in that age frame and not. Did you watch the show as a kid?

PW: I did, but it has been decades, yea, a few decades since I had seen it.

MF: To bring it back to life, in a real sense in some ways, in it’s use of live individuals and animals. How does that feel?

PW: Listen, it is always fun to work with Disney. To work on a Disney project, cause you know it is going to be sweet. They did a nice live action in the right vein. It certainly is a family film. You could have taken Underdog and gone in many directions with it. I believe you could have really made a kind of edgy movie but for a company like Disney, they did the smartest thing and Frederik Du Chau our director made a family movie. It’s fun that way. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have liked to have seen an edgy version of Underdog, but that’s not really what they did here. It’s a family version and there’s some maybe slightly mature humor in it, not that somebody there couldn’t enjoy it, but that is primarily where this film is going to appeal.

MF: Our time is about up and I want to respect that, but another question, just out of curiosity, you have a myspace page. Do you check it out or do you have other folks check it out and maintain it for you?

PW: Sometimes I check it out once a month, maybe others once a week. It’s just sort of been on. I know I got hacked, I don’t know if I am still presently hacked. I have a buddy who actually created it for me. I’m something of a computer imbecile and my buddy is a comic he had his own page so he told me I had to have one. You get to see peoples opinions and this and that and whenever you do something that is really important to you where you don’t have that publicity machine working behind it, say like Disney or Sony or your TV Network, then you can promote things. Like, I’m doing a play locally in the Thousand Oaks area, in the Thousand Oaks High School Theater. It is a beautiful theater and me and a couple of buddies are putting on a play there. We’re hoping to get 20 or 30 people there a night cause we don’t even know how to advertise for something like this. It’s theater and I wanted to do it and I haven’t done any theater in 15 years, this theater is seven minutes from my house, they let us rent the space, so I figured, hey I could probably get back on that thing and you just put out a blog and any local people, I guess I have like four or five thousand friends on there, obviously not all from this area, but they could come out and see the play. Or if I have a little art film showing somewhere, it is a great way to get the word out there. I guess it could be instrumental that way.

MF: I’ll tell you who has used it brilliantly; I know you are a Rock N Roll Fan. At least I read some place where you like Pearl Jam. Rob Zombie has used MySpace brilliantly.

PW: Has he?

MF: Tell your people to check out his page and all he has done with it. It has been incredible with what he has been able to do with his page.

PW: I see him on there, that’s right yea.

MF: I appreciate your work, and certainly your time. It is a privilege and honor to get to speak to you.

PW: Thanks Mike, it has been a pleasure talking to you.

MF: Thanks and enjoy a good game of golf this week. I know you play, it’s a great game.

PW: Yea (with some laughter) I don’t know if I’m going to get to play for the next couple of weeks but it is a great game.

MF: Thanks again Patrick.

PW: You to Mike.

Closing thoughts:

In closing I can’t help but think how God has honored me with the chance to meet some of the people others often look up to. Truth is, at times so do I. I still consider myself a poor street kid that has been blessed by God. I am also reminded though, that the truth of it is that what a person does for a living isn’t always the true measure of who is and is not a good man or woman. Sometimes I think the best measure of that is how one loves their family, loves their wife, husband, and stays committed to the things in his/her life that are really important. I have to say, I got that sense from Patrick Warburton. I know he is not the only one with these types of values, but when so many are so quick to be so critical of “Hollywood,” we need to remember there are those that fit outside of whatever expectations we think we may have. Patrick Warburton is certainly one of those, and for me, a reminder to appreciate, respect, and be real with people no matter what they do for a living, or no matter who they know. I think we all want and desire that, no matter what role we play in life.

May we never forget, that the character an actor plays on screen, is seldom, if ever who that actor is in real life. Patrick is an example of that, not just for the “Hollywood” elite, but for all of us. May we all get to know the people we come into contact with without using those initial impressions as our criteria for judgment. We might just be surprised at what we can do, and who we can get to know if we treat people as real people, with real emotions, and a real heart.

To Check Out the Movie The Civilization of Maxwell Bright with Patrick Wartburn Check Out The Trailer Below. If you see the video double click on the video, otherwise just click on the link:

Double Click below on the trailer to see the trailer for Underdog. If the video don't appear, click on the link.

Another Trailer from Underdog:

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