The Q&A after the film was a bit, um, contentious. “It began with RogerEbert.com contributor Susan Wloszczyna claiming that Oswalt’s crippled character reminded her of an orc. Yes, an orc. It was all uphill from then on,” wrote Sam Fragoso, thumbnail editor of Ebert’s website, Friday. “Wloszczyna’s line of questioning had less linearity than a Terrence Malick movie.”
As always, though, Oswalt was humble and hilarious. When the time came for audience queries, I had the opportunity to throw out the first question. I asked Oswalt about the younger photos of him in the house his character shared with his on-screen sister, Sandra, played by Collette Wolfe.
“I called my mom a month before the shoot and said, ‘Hey, they need pictures of me as a kid for this scene,’ and she just sent a whole box,” said Oswalt. “If I picked them out it would be a very specific look, so I let the set dresser pick those out.”
As I wrote in my April 10, 2013 column, “Ebert, in his own words,” the impact of the late Chicago Sun-Times film critic on my own work is hard to overestimate. I made a point to thank Chaz as we filed out between screenings. I told her how much Roger’s writing meant to me. I said the story of Roger lovingly preparing her meals with his rice cooker — long after his illness robbed him of the ability to speak, eat or drink — was about the most romantic thing ever.
As I introduced my wife, I told Chaz I had given Ash the 2010 book Roger penned about the experience, “The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and the Romance of the Rice Cooker,” as a birthday present, along with an actual rice cooker.