Patton Oswalt Figured Out The Trick To Getting Emotions Right When Voicing An Animated Character

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Max looking nervous at the vet

Looking at actor/comedian Patton Oswalt’s career as an entertainer, you’ll notice that his resume has quite a bit of voice work included. And why shouldn’t it, considering one of his breakout roles in pop culture was that of Remy, the witty rat protagonist in Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille?

While he’s certainly gotten more exposure in live-action projects, with roles in everything from Young Adult to the recently cancelled A.P. Bio, voice acting is still something that Oswalt is hired to do quite a bit, and it’s all because of the expertise he’d built up in the past couple of years. But with such talents comes great responsibility and technique, something that Patton Oswalt has in spades.

When speaking with him during the press day for The Secret Life of Pets 2, CinemaBlend got to learn more about just how the man who helped give a rat a heart infused a lot of life into the pre-existing character of Max. In particular, Oswalt had the following insight to share on how he navigates the emotional maze of this, and any other, voice role:

Think of the situation that character is in, and play that situation if they are, you know, being chased, if they’re cringing, cowering, joyful. Whatever that is, that will come out in your voice, and it’ll add energy to your voice. Because when you’re in those situations, your body will flood you with endorphins or adrenaline, depending on what you need. And sometimes, I know this sounds so cheesy, but if you want to feel happy or smile, sometimes if you do that, it does change your mood a little bit. As an actor, doubly so; you just have to crank that up a little bit. … I sound like some dumb, positive thinking guru, but IT WORKS!

Getting to hear the trademark Patton Oswalt energy in person is a unique experience, and it’s especially fantastic when speaking to him personally. Even slightly under the weather, as he was fighting a bit of a throat bug during our interview, the infectious nature of his approach to life comes through in everyday conversation.

So if you’re going to hire anyone to play a neurotic dog that only wants the best for his little human, picking Mr. Oswalt to voice him in a film like The Secret Life of Pets 2 is akin to easy money earned. In the franchise’s second outing, we see a Max who's both more neurotic and more confident in his stride, as he and now best friend Duke, played by Eric Stonestreet, both team up to help be perfect doggy co-parents to Liam, their owner’s young son.

While The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a revolving narrative that switches through three major plotlines, the one where Patton Oswalt’s Max is mentored by Harrison Ford’s new character Rooster is perhaps the shining example of what this series does when it’s at its best. And part of that is thanks to Oswalt putting so much of his own energy into this scrappy little dog who slowly learns to be brave and go with the flow.

Even more impressive is the fact that when discussing the recording sessions for The Secret Life of Pets 2, Patton Oswalt mentioned that his work was done solo, without interacting with any of the cast during the production. This is not only a credit to Oswalt’s talents, but also to the entire cast of the film. When you’ve got personalities as big as Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, and Jenny Slate all performing their respective characters, and the energies mesh together this well, it truly does feel like some sort of magic has been made.

For the kids who enjoy The Secret Life of Pets 2, the energy that Patton Oswalt and the rest of the stellar ensemble cast put out will be invaluable, as it’ll excite them while watching their favorite characters on the screen once again. But for the adults that are tagging along with their youngsters, there will definitely be a reward to attending this weekend’s opening, as a stacked cast of professionals give the film their all.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is currently in theaters. If you’ve already seen the film, stay tuned to CinemaBlend, as we’ll be running more coverage on the film’s debut, and what the future may hold in store for a potential third round.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.