For Oscar-winning St. Xavier grad, fun is more important than success

Oscar-winning St. X grad talks 'Imaginary Mary'
Posted at 11:22 PM, Mar 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-10 23:39:08-05

CINCINNATI -- Although Green Township native Patrick Osborne is as honored as any other person to have won an Academy Award, the glamor of the Oscars isn't what appeals to him.

Instead, said the longtime Disney animator, the real value of having won Best Animated Short for his 2014 film "Feast" lay in the creative opportunities it afforded him.

"It's a struggle a lot of the time to be heard, to be given the confidence to make your own things," said Osborne, who was also nominated for Best Animated Short in 2017 for ‘Pearl.' "After that, all the doors open to be able to explore, to make what you've always wanted to make -- at least for a while."

He's making the most of that time. On April 14, ABC will premiere Osborne's biggest project yet: "Imaginary Mary," a sitcom in which a PR exec's romantic misadventures are complicated by the sudden reappearance of her childhood imaginary friend.

Mary, a fully animated character who falls somewhere between Teddy bear and Muppet in terms of design, would have been a technical and budgetary impossibility in the TV landscape of 10 years ago, Osborne said. Now, the network is able to render her realistically interacting with its human cast without breaking the bank.

Osborne, who co-created and produced the show as well as serving as its animation director, said the show has received positive reactions in previews and he hopes that'll carry over to its on-air debut.

"It's been a really nice response," he said. "People have loved it."

But, he said, just like when he won his Oscar, public reaction isn't half as important as being able to experiment creatively and do work he enjoys.

"You care a little bit about what people think, but as long as the work is fun, it's okay," he said. "These things take so long to make that the work has to be fun. You hope that people love it."

Since Osborne was at February's Academy Award ceremony, we couldn't restrain ourselves from asking what the mood in the room was like when "Moonlight" snatched the Best Picture rug out from under "La La Land."

In another example of his down-to-earth practicality, Osborne said he'd left the Dolby Theater at that point for family reasons.

While other Academy members were processing the shock of February's last-minute Best Picture reversal, Osborne and his wife were upstairs grabbing dinner. They're expecting their first child in just a few weeks -- and when there's a choice between making sure an expectant mother gets to eat and watching the end of a four-hour award ceremony, the choice is pretty obvious.

Like everyone else in the world, Osborne found out about the last-minute twist on his phone.

In his defense, he said, the dinner was excellent.