Patrick Warbuton might be best known as the voice behind hilarious cartoon characters like Joe Swanson (Family Guy), Kronk (The Emperor's New Groove), and Brock Samson (The Venture Bros.), but he's also an accomplished live-action actor with roles stretching from Seinfeld to A Series of Unfortunate Events.
One thing he's not known for, however, is playing the villain (he's more likely to show up as the goofy friend than the antagonist), but in his new movie, Inheritance, that's exactly what Warburton becomes.
"You have to fight for those," Warburton tells Inverse of his latest roll, "because you do get perceived as a certain thing in the industry.
Inheritance stars Lily Collins as Warburton's daughter, who discovers after her father dies that he's been hiding an imprisoned man (Simon Pegg) in the basement, along with some disturbing secrets about his past.
At the same time, Warburton's fans can find him in a somewhat more familiar role as the unnamed Commandant of the Marine Corps in Space Force, where he gets to riff with other comedy legends like Diedrich Bader, Jane Lynch, and Larry Joe Cambell, who all play four-star generals trading barbs as they plan the U.S. foreign policy.
Inverse spoke to Warburton about both of his latest rolls, what it was like playing against his usual character, and whether we'll see his Commandant of the Marine Corps again if Space Force returns for a second season.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
Your character in Inheritance mostly appears in the beginning. How does that change the experience as an actor? And have you watched the rest of the movie yet?
I only watch my parts [laughs]. We actually watched it last night for the first time and enjoyed it. I’m mostly in the beginning and there are flashbacks throughout.
I shot everything I did on it over the course of two days. And we were in the south, and I hate to say it, but I forget where we were. It’s all a blur.
You're best known for playing lovable idiots, but your character in this movie is pretty evil. Was it a challenge to act against your usual type?
No, not really. My level of participation was moderate, but I did like what there was for me to do. I’ve had other opportunities to play bad people and interesting ones with some dimension in films like The Civilization of Maxwell Bright and The Woman Chaser. Outside of that, it’s been mostly comedy, but I’m always looking for something different and new and different opportunities. You have to fight for those sometimes because you do get perceived as a certain thing in the industry.
Your scenes in Space Force, where you're hanging out with the other four-star general, are some of the best in the show? What was it like acting with all those great comedians? And how much of it was improvised?
It was a little improvisational, but it was mostly scripted. It was great to work with Diedrich [Bader] and Jane [Lynch] and Larry Joe Cambell, who’s an old friend of mine. It was super fun, and they’re all very talented. I’m not just their friend but a fan of theirs. So just to be able to sit in the Department of Defense with all of them.
And to get to work with Steve Carrel. I’ve never worked with Steve, and we’ve always been huge fans of his, our family here, we binged The Office a few times.
We only get a bit of your group in Space Force's first season. Was there any unused material you filmed that didn't make it into the show?
They seemed to use most of it. We only shot for two days, and they took what we shot and sort of interspersed it throughout three of the episodes. So when they come back for Season 2, they certainly need to get back to the Department of Defense. It’s easy enough, they just have to schedule it out where we’re all available on a day. We all get together and just do it.
Inheritance is available now for digital rental. Space Force Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.