Patrick Warburton on Life After Puddy, His Sitcom Luck and Losing Out to Facebook Poker

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Most people still associate Patrick Warburton with his recurring role on Seinfeld as David Puddy. But these days, Warburton can be heard on Fox's Family Guy, where he voices Joe Swanson, the show's paraplegic cop, and seen on CBS's mid-season sitcom Rules of Engagement, where the square-jawed actor matches his co-star David Spade laugh-for-laugh. Tonight, Rules premieres its fourth season, which Warburton eagerly discussed with Movieline last week.

How excited are you for Rules of Engagement to finally be back on the air?

Very. I think it is by far our best season yet and I feel like the show has progressed really well. With the addition of Adhir Kalyan to the show, it's the perfect cast now.

You've already taped the entire fourth season. Do you think those 13 episodes could finally get Rules the full-season pick-up that fans think it deserves?

We've deserved it in the past and we haven't gotten it but the show's even better now so I feel like we've done all we can.

What can you tell us about the baby arc this season between Jeff and Audrey?

In the season finale, Jaime Pressly is onboard as a prospective surrogate mother and it looks like she would be with us next season if our characters decide to do this.

Other series have jumped the shark once a baby has been added into the equation, and I read that you were hesitant for the couple to expand their family for that reason. Has your opinion changed? Are you confident in this storyline?

They have and that's why I don't think Megyn [Price] or I have been real proponents of it but this is a couple that has always wanted a child and the old-fashioned way doesn't work for them. They have gone to therapists and doctors so even though I am not entirely onboard for Jeff and Audrey to have a baby, I love the idea of bringing Jaime on the series next year. The interactions between Jeff, Audrey and [Pressley] were so much fun when we did the finale. I can only imagine how fun it would be to do a whole season with her. But once Jeff and Audrey actually get the baby, I don't know what they'll do with it -- hopefully just put it in daycare every day so the show doesn't change that much. [Laughs]

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What kind of character does Jaime Pressly play?

You get a sense that she might be a little neurotic. Jeff and Audrey have an interesting interviewing process which seems to go awry but they salvage it at the very end. There's some good conflict there.

You and David Spade have great chemistry on-set and your exchanges are always my favorite moments on the show. I know you both worked on The Emperor's New Groove but had you met before?

Well, we never recorded together for that movie. The first time I think I ever met him was the premiere of The Emperor's New Groove. I have always been a fan of his. I enjoy working with him and David's a funny, charming guy. He wasn't an original cast member. After we shot the pilot, they were trying to figure out what to do with the show and we ended up bringing David onboard. So we were all thrilled. I have always felt that the cast had great chemistry. But I also felt throughout our first three seasons that there have been many things that needed to get fixed and this is the first year where everything just feels perfect. The writing was great this year. All the episodes worked. Our new cast member, Adhir Kalyan, was a great addition. So the cast is just better rounded now with six members as opposed to five.

Even though Jeff and Puddy are very different characters, they sometimes have the same dry, deadpan delivery. Is that delivery something that you developed in acting classes or is that an ability you've always had?

I don't know where I picked that up. I definitely see Jeff as being a more multifaceted character than Puddy. Puddy was kind of an odd bird there. You never got much from that guy. He popped in and out and seemed to operate on somewhat of a very base level. That delivery, I guess, was a specific choice I made when I went in to read for the role of Puddy. How he would talk, how he would say things, I figured it would be a little off-balance, a little different delivery than say, a typical New York City mechanic. When I went in to read for that part, there were a lot of guys auditioning who looked like real mechanics, so I figured I wouldn't get the role. It's hard for me to explain but when I looked at the dialogue for Puddy and saw, "Yeah, that's right," I decided to run the words together, "Yeahthat'sright." It all just made sense to me and I am sure my success in that audition and that role has affected other choices I have made with other characters I have done. But I don't think Jeff is really like Puddy except that they are both your typical alpha males.

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