Q&A: Indie Spirits Host Patton Oswalt Sets the Record Straight: No Birds!

Thelma Adams
Yahoo Movies

Funnyman Patton Oswalt will crack the host code when he emcees the 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards on the Santa Monica shore this Saturday.

Following Andy Samberg's act from a year ago, self-described film geek Oswalt has done his homework. "I'm pretty far gone in terms of watching a lot of movies," the "Young Adult" star told Yahoo Movies, "reading about them and being into all of the minutia." But Oswalt refuses to divulge any state secrets about his plans ("I am not going to say yet about singing or dancing or dramatic readings. I'm going to keep that under wraps") though he did clear up that whole "bird" story.

Yahoo Movies: Patton, you got flack when you announced you would award live birds, not bird-themed trophies, at the Indie Spirits.
Patton Oswalt:
It's not happening. The birds were never going to happen. I didn't know that people would look at a throwaway joke and take it seriously. If it was an "SNL" comedy sketch, would people ask, "Did you really put a bass in a blender?" It's a comedy sketch, people.

YM: You are serious about your movies. Have you seen a theme emerge this year?
PO: There are movies about historical tragedies, small contemporary love stories, morality plays, high seas adventure – and I can't think of a common theme. But there is a crucial commonality: The makers really decided to roll the dice on what they created.

[Related: 2014 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations Announced]

YM: With "12 Years a Slave" among the contenders, will it hinder developing comic material? How many "Schindler's List" jokes do you know?
I've been wrestling with "12 Years a Slave." I'll have a better idea about what I'm going to say and how I' going to approach it once I sit down with my writers.

YM: And who are they?
They're six of my close friends that I've been doing comedy with. We're all equally movie geeks.

YM: Do you have any fears about hosting?
I'm a fan of the people in the room and I want to show them a good time. For a lot of young filmmakers, this is bigger than the Oscars. They deserve a good night and I don't want to be a hindrance to having a good time and feeling good about what they did. It's also a nice friends gathering in the afternoon to have some drinks. What's wrong with that?

[Related: Watch Yahoo's 2014 Oscars Pre-Show]

YM: Nothing. Jameson Irish Whiskey is one of Film Independent's sponsors and there's always a big green bottle on each table.
Thanks Jameson.

YM: On the mean meter, if Ricky Gervais is a 10, where would you rank yourself?
I can't say until I get up there. It depends on how bold I decide to be. Or how much whiskey I drink before I go up. I'll know a minute after I get up on stage.

YM: What about the Armond White effect: Will you comment on your opinions when they clash with the honorees?
I don't have any specific biases but I do have favorites. I'm more excited about the act of awarding. I'm not there to set the record straight or impose my will. I'm there to celebrate. If there's stuff you disagree with afterwards it's even more fun because you get to argue about it. Thanks Jameson.

[Related: Armond White Speaks Out on NYFCC Expulsion]

YM: If you could create a new award, what would it be?
I would give an award to Laura Dern for always being there for Film Independent and independent movies. Even when Laura does a major big budget Hollywood movie, it's in service of doing another independent. I'd call it the One for Them, One for Me Award.

YM: And this is a particularly big year for the actress. Her father, Bruce, is a nominee for Best Actor on both Saturday and Sunday.
That honor is a long time coming. Bruce Dern is amazing always.

YM: Hosting is a sweet gig – unless you're David Letterman. What's the worst job you ever had?
I used to be a party deejay on weekends for weddings. That was always crazy and annoying and weird. It was supposedly a creative music job, but it was so uncreative.

YM: It was the equivalent of being a wedding singer.
And we know how that turned out for Adam Sandler.

The Spirit Awards will air on IFC on March 1st at 10pm PT/ET.