Eight Reasons Patrick Warburton Is More Than Hollywood’s Goofy Dad
Actor Patrick Warburton tends to play the same character. Whether Kronk’s The Emperor’s New RoutineBrock Samson from The Venture Brothersor Joe Swanson of family guy, Warburton is often credited as a “dumb guy with that really deep voice”. (His run as The Tick from the ’90s TV series is a minor exception, but mostly because of the giant blue suit he wore.) Heck, it’s a fact that he’s both self-aware and more than willing to fully assume.
“I’m not a chameleon,” he said during his Phoenix Fan Fusion panel on May 28. “Billy West can do all these amazing things. But people know it’s me. I’m limited by range. I can, however, do a little John Wayne and a Brad Garrett.”
Still, Warburton isn’t a one-note talent — as he’s proven on sitcoms like less than perfect; video games like Tales from the Borderlands; and perhaps his other most notable role, Puddy of Seinfeld. Warburton used most of his hour-long panel to demonstrate his true depth, talking about his various roles, his personal life and how to succeed in the business. Equal parts charming and funny, the whole conversation proved that Warburton isn’t just another Joe or David.
But he will gladly accept any conversion if an offer is on the table.
Kronk taught him a valuable career/life lesson
There’s something about Kronk, the slightly dim-witted henchmen with hearts of gold from the Disney animated movie The Emperor’s New Routine, which continually resonated with fans young and old. And the way Warburton talks about the character, it’s clear he had a huge effect on his life and his approach as an actor.
“I love what I do and I’m very lucky,” Warburton said. “I grew up with very strict parents; I could only watch little house on the prairie. So it’s great to do this, and I want to do it the right way. While doing Kronk, I learned that there is no right way to do this. You have to invent. People don’t know what it is until you do it. He was a henchman and he liked to cook, so I made it a little sweet.”
Another valuable lesson, however, came years before
“The first two movies I did, I was 22 and they were unassailable,” Warburton said. “I filmed them in South Africa… I asked the director: ‘Should I work on a dialogue?’ And he said no, so I knew it was bad all along, but I didn’t care because I just got down to business.
Good voice acting is all about vulnerability
These are the same lessons Warburton imparts whenever young comedians ask him how they can break into the industry. The key, he said, is a sense of openness and spontaneity.
“Always remember it’s a creative thing,” he said. “There are always rules for this and for that, and it’s always a process. Often directors don’t tell you how to act, and they can just make adjustments. They want to see what you bring. Be creative Do it in a way no one else would. They want someone to take the character and bring it to life. To see something they haven’t thought of yet. Take that bull by the horns. You walk out of that room and you know you were true to yourself and original.”
Warburton isn’t afraid to play second fiddle, either.
“They asked me to play Buzz Lightyear in [the animated show] Star Command’s Buzz Lightyear“, says Warburton of the space hero made famous by Tim Allen in the toy story movies. “I knew very well what that meant. I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons. I knew it would be a cheap TV version and I didn’t care.”
And speaking of Allen, Buzz Lightyear isn’t the only time their careers have crossed.
“I did a movie with Tim Allen where I slammed the dirt on him in front of his 10 year old son [child]”, Warburton said. “I said to him, ‘This must be your worst nightmare. [the] stand up and slam the gunk out of you. Tim, I didn’t want it to be like this.”
Showbiz is a fickle mistress
Warburton’s attitudes are influenced by a deep understanding of the business. Although he’s played some truly beloved characters, he knows nothing lasts forever.
“There will be many different Batmen and Supermen,” he said. “And even the tick.”
On the contrary, he bet on this impermanence to help his career. Like when he was hired for the second season of Dave’s Worldthe early ’90s CBS sitcom based on the life of comedy columnist Dave Barry.
“Friday night sitcoms don’t usually do well,” Warburton said. “And that kept me from going back to Seinfeld. Luckily it was canceled and I was able to do Seinfeld.”
You can never have too much fun in life
Warburton clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously as an actor. Because, despite his loaded CV, he is happy to poke fun at himself a little in the name of continuous entertainment.
“I was at Disney one day with a friend and he said, ‘He’s here every day; he really needs some attention,” said Warburton, who has worked for Disney theme parks in the past, including appearing in the “Soarin'” pre-show. And it goes even further.
“I also like to do things to embarrass my kids,” he said. “I’m going to say, ‘Everyone, shut up. I really want to watch this guy! If you work at Disney, you have to have a sense of humor.”
Or this time Warburton, who plays Lemony Snicket, got a tattoo in honor of season two of the Netflix adaptation of A series of unfortunate events. That, and a solid reality check.
“I’ve gone 50 years of my life without a tattoo,” he said. “I’m going to get one…and the tattoo artist didn’t say anything for a really long time. Then he said, ‘I love you in those National Car Rental commercials.'” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuYzc_VuENG
His parents were a massive influence, for better and for worse
Perhaps part of Warburton’s outlook on life stems from living with his aforementioned “strict” parents and the lessons he learned about life, humor, and the value of humility.
“My mom, when I was 13, was walking around the neighborhood handing out pamphlets about the sins of masturbation,” Warburton said. “I always found out too late, playing street hockey with my friends. ‘Hey, Patrick, your mom is handing out pamphlets on masturbation.’ I said, ‘She’s not really my mother.’ But everyone does it, so it’s fine. But not as much as you.
Or, what his parents thought he played the lovable but angry Joe Swanson on family guy.
“My parents hated it from day one,” he said of the role. “My dad left me a message once…about how family guy is the ruin of America.”
Even when Warburton supported his parents financially, they never came.
“My mom has always donated to all of her causes,” he said. “She would donate to the Parents Television Council, and their #1 goal is to get family guy off the airwaves. I was like, ‘Mom, I’m supporting you and sending your grandkids to college with family guy.’ And she didn’t care.”
Life and art are often the same thing
Like so many other celebrity guests, Warburton had some really random celebrity stories to share. Aside from the ones with Allen, the other involved his first “encounter” with Eartha Kitt around 1985.
“She’s sitting on a couch petting a kitten,” Warburton said. “She excuses the butler and it’s just her and me and it’s so awkward. Everything she said felt like a double meaning. But she didn’t make any inappropriate advances. I was like, ‘You you’re way out of your league here.’
But then you jump to The Emperor’s New Groove, and it was art imitating life. It was almost like the two of us 15 years ago, right there on the screen.”