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Celebrity Q+A: Patrick Warburton

This jack-of-all-trades does live-action TV shows as well as big-screen movies and lends his voice to animation. That same versatility helps him raise kids Talon, 19, Alexandra, 18, Shane, 14, and Gabriel, 11.
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Patrick Warburton
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Photo courtesy of Prphotos.com.

Q. Your character, Jeff, on Rules of Engagement, is kind of a grump—are you?

A. All guys get crabby sometimes, but I'm not as calculating as Jeff. There was one episode I could relate to, though: Jeff has a little free time but doesn't want to tell his wife because he's worried she'll hold it over his head!

Q. You and your wife, Cathy, have been together 21 years. How did you meet?

A. We first saw each other at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach, California. I remember it like it was yesterday. The 5 p.m. Sunday mass was known as the scammers' mass, because all the young people would hang out in back to see who wanted to date.

Q. What is it about her that keeps you falling in love with her year after year?

A. She's all that! She's beautiful, an amazing mother and artist, she has a big heart, and she's incredibly intelligent. Sometimes I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, though. It's a bad thing when we're playing [the iPhone app] Scramble with Friends against each other. I have never beaten her—not once!

Q. You're often recognized for your voice rather than your appearance. Do you prepare differently for animated versus on-screen roles?

A. Not really. The biggest distinction is when you're doing animation, you can just go in and bang it out—there are no sets, no co-stars. With live action, there's a lot more hurry up and wait. You can be sitting around for hours with nothing to do.

Q. Are any of your kids following in your acting footsteps?

A. Gabriel, my youngest, seems to be headed in that direction. The older kids, however, have other plans: Talon is studying communication at California Lutheran University. Lexie just got accepted to Cal State Channel Islands and wants to go into nursing. Shane is going to be our pilot. He spends hours playing with flight simulators and flew his first real plane with an instructor when he was 12.

Q. Any family plans for the summer?

A. Every year we spend a month at the cabin we built on the Rogue River in Oregon, which is like our Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn paradise. It's remote and quiet—we just raft and go in our swimming hole.

Q. Since you've voiced characters in Disney animated hits like The Emperor's New Groove and Kim Possible, are you treated like a king when you go to Disneyland?

A. I wouldn't say that. But when I have to do promotional stuff, my whole family gets to come along and we stay at the Grand Californian Hotel and get a guided tour of the park, which means we don't have to stand in line for the rides. That's a nice perk!

Q. Do you head to the roller coasters first?

A. Some of the kids like them, but I'm into rides that have less thrills and more relaxation. On a hot day, I could sit on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride six times in a row, if they'd let me, because it's just so air-conditioned and relaxing. That's one of my all-time favorites.

Q. Is it true you named your black 1969 Dodge Charger, Angelina, after Angelina Jolie?

A. Yes, and our motor home's name is Pammy after Pamela Anderson. Cathy has made it clear she's sick of hearing about this. But men have been naming their cars after women for years. I tell her she should name her SUV after Brad Pitt—I wouldn't mind!

Fast Facts

HOW YOU KNOW HIM: As half of the married couple on Rules of Engagement and as Puddy, Elaine's boyfriend with the monotone voice, on Seinfeld.

WHERE YOUR KIDS KNOW HIS VOICE FROM: As Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove and its spin-off TV show, Wolf W. Wolf in Hoodwinked; Buzz Lightyear in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.

I SCORED COOL POINTS WITH MY KIDS FOR DOING... "The Tick. It was a short-lived TV series (2001-2002) where I played the superhero based on the comics/graphic novels."

I CAN'T STOP LISTENING TO... "Pearl Jam. I've seen them 15 times in concert and they're my obsession. If I was a single guy, I'd probably be a volunteer roadie so I could sweep the stage for them."

MY IDEA OF COMFORT FOOD IS... "Chocolate in any form!"

MY FAMILY NEVER MISSES AN EPISODE OF... "American Idol. We all love a good singing competition."

Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.