- Joe Lederer/Netflix
Patrick Warburton’s path to Netflix’s “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” was just as unique as the role he plays on the unconventional drama series.
Based on the best-selling novels by Daniel Handler, the show stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, who mistakenly becomes the guardian to three young children after their parents die in a fire and plans to steal their inheritances. Warburton plays the show’s stylish, deadpan narrator Lemony Snicket.
“You never give anything away as Lemony,” Warburton recently told Business Insider. “It can’t be cute. It can’t be clever. It can’t be any of these things. It just has to be very honest and forthcoming, and everything else is in the words. As an actor, you always want to gussy things up a bit and things, but one of the tricks of Lemony is very much being reserved.”
The show’s executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld (“Men in Black,” “Get Shorty”) offered Warburton the part in a very casual and modern way.
“Barry sent me a text: ‘Can you come to Vancouver for five months and do my Netflix series?'” Warburton remembered.
Two important things had to come together for Warburton to receive such a casual job offer. He and Sonnenfeld built a relationship after working together on a number of projects, including the Fox (and now Amazon) comedy “The Tick,” and the films “Big Trouble,” “Joe Somebody,” “Scream 3,” and “Men in Black 2.”
The other factor involved Warburton’s 1999 movie, “The Woman Chaser.”
“Unbeknownst to me, [‘Lemony Snicket’ author] Daniel Handler actually went to go see a screening of ‘The Woman Chaser’ in San Francisco about 10 years ago,” the actor said. “So it was this film that I think inspired Daniel Handler to consider me as Lemony Snicket in the series. You never know.”
- Columbia TriStar Television
Warburton told us he would have loved to accept the role at the time Sonnenfeld made the offer, but it took him his own series of events to free him up.
At the time, he was under contract with NBC and starring on its comedy “Crowded.” He was also slated to reprise his starring role on “The Tick” for Amazon’s revival.
In the end, NBC canceled “Crowded” and let Warburton out of his contract.
“I was grateful to the folks at NBC,” he said.
And as for “The Tick,” Amazon decided to go in a different direction with the new show and went with a new lead actor.
“I was certainly interested [in ‘The Tick’ role],” Warburton, who still serves as a producer on the show, said, “but they wanted to redo it from the ground up, which I wholly understand.”
The actor was happy to finally accept Sonnenfeld’s offer after his dance card opened up.
“Anything that Barry’s doing, I’d jump at the opportunity,” Warburton said. “So I was thrilled to get it and terribly curious. Barry is a great storyteller when it comes to translating property like this to the screen, and it’s just fun to watch.”