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Patton Oswalt explains what Charlize Theron taught him about acting

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On Jan. 8, the day before his sold-out debut at Carnegie Hall, comedian/author/eternal Twitter presence Patton Oswalt stopped by the WORD bookstore in Jersey City, which often hosts events with authors like Chuck Klosterman and B.J. Novak, for an almost hour-long conversation about movies, acting, and comedy with actor Patrick Wilson. Oswalt, a stand-up comedian and journeyman character actor whose recently released a second book, Silver Screen Fiend, details the four years he spent in the ‘90s obsessively watching movies at Hollywood’s New Beverly Cinema, and Wilson, an actor and an investor in WORD, worked together on Jason Reitman’s 2011 film Young Adult with Charlize Theron. Oswalt gave some of the backstory behind Silver Screen Fiend and told Wilson how much he learned about acting from working on Young Adult.

“What was great about Young Adult was, working that one scene with you and then all the ones I got to do with Charlize, I got that myth of The Method out of my head,” Oswalt said. “When they yelled ‘cut,’ she would be Charlize, bullshitting and telling jokes, and when they yelled ‘action’ she would zip right back in. That’s actually what real acting is, when you can zip in and out of it. You don’t need to do all that tortured stuff.”

After about 40 minutes, Wilson and Oswalt opened the floor to audience questions from the crowd of about 200. Oswalt’s famous encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture (see this Parks and Recreation scene) was on display as audience members seized the opportunity to grill him for favorites and recommendations. Oswalt called Boyhood his favorite movie of the year (“it showed movies aren’t a dying art form, you can do new stuff with it”) and praised younger comedians like Hannibal Buress, Kyle Kinane, and Maria Bamford (“She’s just doing something so new that you feel like a vaudevillian in baggy pants”).

The full conversation is available to watch on YouTube. A calendar of upcoming events at WORD is available on the bookstore’s website.