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“The Woman Chaser”: Patrick Warburton Interview

It’s been two years since “Seinfeld” ended, but Patrick Warburton is still referred to as “the actor best known for playing Elaine’s boyfriend Puddy.”

That’s all about to change, as the 35-year-old actor takes on his first major leading role (aside from a little-seen 1987 film called “Dragonard,” which he’d rather forget) in “The Woman Chaser,” a black comedy by Tarmac Films.

Shot on color but presented in black and white, “Woman Chaser” follows a lady magnet/used-car salesman named Richard (Warburton) in 1960s Los Angeles who suddenly decides to embark on a filmmaking career. He has no experience, but Richard is all the more determined to complete his dream, even when the powers that be work to shut him down.

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“I can empathize with him,” Warburton says. “This guy who does awful things but still has a heart, just very misguided.”

In preparation for the role, which takes on many film-noir stylings (including deep-voiced narrations), director Robinson Devor gave Warburton a copy of “Kiss Me Deadly,” which he still hasn’t watched.

“I did not want to emulate or copy the performance,” Warburton says. “I thought, ‘I’ve got a good enough sense of the time,’ I felt. The period, the style. [I said] ‘Let’s just make our picture, let’s make our movie. I know who this character is’ when I read the script.”

Doing the film is a strong first step for Warburton, who has already won raves for his performance in “Woman Chaser” and will next appear in the live-action TV version of “The Tick” this fall. With each project, he distances himself more and more from the role that made him a star.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he says philosophically. “[Puddy] helped open a lot of doors. [“Seinfeld”] will forever be one of my best work experiences … working with what I believe was the best cast in half-hour TV. They were heroes of mine.

“But you have to, as an actor, go out there and try to do different things. … Or else you will get typecast.”

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