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Patton Oswalt Leads Ratatouille

Published June 28, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Disney/Pixar.
Ratatouille Remy

Some animated movies just hire celebrities to do their celebrity voices and use their celebrity likeness on their posters. Even when Pixar got Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, they still transformed them into characters. Patton Oswalt may not be quite as recognizable, but his voice of Remy the rat in Ratatouille would not be tied to his stand-up or sitcom persona anyway.

Patton Oswalt on Ratatouille

"It was a lot easier than I thought," said Oswalt. "Like, ‘I’m going to be in a booth alone and I’m just going to see random pages. Is this going to work?’ But you’re in a room with Brad Bird. You’re in a room with the best animation director alive right now, and you’re in a room with the guy that’s got all of animation history in his head and has the whole story and world in his head. He can feed you the lines and get the reaction. He’s a guy who’s got a million tricks and he’s got no habits, so every moment is going to be its own thing. He knows all the rules of animation and then forgets them when he walks in that room because everything’s going to be unprecedented to him, which makes it so fresh. ‘What is going to happen here?’ I mean, he was pushing me from behind. He was yanking me. He was stuffing water down my throat. It was nuts."

That made recording more of an acting exercise and less about trying to embody a rodent. "I was actually worried about that and then Brad Bird told me, ‘You know, the reason we hired you is because of your enthusiasm for esoteric and weird things,’ this one being food. And I am a big foodie. It ended up having nothing to do with being a rat and everything to do with just embrace your enthusiasm non-judgmentally, if that makes sense. So it ended up being really easy."

Remy is a rat who likes to cook, but restaurants don't like rats. So he teams up with a human to concoct his culinary masterpieces. Remy's passion for food makes Ratatouille a heavy hitter in the genre of food movies.

"Honestly, and it has nothing to do with me being in it, I think this will be on the top of the pantheon. I really do. I think it will be up there with Babette’s Feast and The God of Cookery, even beyond those movies. Movies like Big Night and Tampopo. Tampopo is basically a gun fight done with noodles. You’ve got to see Tampopo because there’s so much of that passion. It’s about opening a little noodle hut. There’s so much of the same passion of that movie in this movie, too. I don’t know if they’ve seen it or not but you can’t believe how emotional you’ll get. Like, 'I hope these guys open this noodle hut.' Movies about food that really illustrate it, I honestly think that this is going to be the new standard."

The film's title comes from a vegetable dish that is traditionally not glamorous, but even Remy can make it special. Oswalt himself is a connoisseur. "I’d had Ratatouille. I was a big fan. I never had that much access to really good French food. In Los Angeles I would go to one on Beverly Blvd where they make their own pickles and olives in the jars, Mimosa. Their menu changes seasonally so we’d go to get the new seasonal menus. And then Chez Francois in Great Falls when I was growing up in Virginia. We’d go there a lot which is this amazing, amazing French restaurant in Virginia of all places. And then also just a lot of the Vietnamese fusion, you’d get a lot of that French flavor in really good Vietnamese restaurants. So I was as much as I could be but I was always a broke comedian. I didn’t have the money to go to these places."

Ratatouille opens to theatres on June 29th.

For the trailers, stills, posters and more movie info, go to the Ratatouille Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Disney/Pixar.

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