Patton Oswalt Thinks Wife’s Death ‘Might Have Been an Overdose’

Patton Oswald and Michelle
Patton Oswalt with his wife, Michelle McNamara, arrive at the 'Young Adult' Los Angeles premiere in 2011. Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Patton Oswalt opened up about his late wife Michelle McNamara’s unexpected death in a new interview published Wednesday, October 26, saying that he has a theory about what caused it, which has not yet been determined.

“I have a feeling it might have been an overdose,” the 47-year-old actor told The New York Times, referring to the sleeping pills McNamara had taken the night before. “That’s what the paramedics there were saying while I was screaming and throwing up.”

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Oswalt recounted how he had told McNamara, 46, to “sleep until you wake up” the previous night, on April 21, because she had been so stressed out over a book she was working on. According to the comedian, McNamara took some Xanax and went to bed.

The morning of April 22, Oswalt awoke early to take their 7-year-old daughter, Alice, to school, bringing home an Americano for McNamara that he set on the bedside table around 9:40 a.m.

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After doing a bit of work at his home office, Oswalt returned to check on his wife around 12:42 p.m. and realized that she wasn’t breathing. Paramedics pronounced her dead upon arrival.

“I was literally blinking trying to get out of this,” Oswalt told the Times of trying to shake off what felt like a nightmare. The stand-up comic added that he tried myriad ways to cope in the following days, including turning to alcohol.

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“I found out the hard way these past few months that alcohol really doesn’t help,” he said. Instead, the Emmy winner decided to channel his energy into his stand-up — he’ll next perform at the New York Comedy Festival on Thursday, November 3.

“[Performing was] a rebuke to grief, an acceptance of the messiness of life,” he said. “I’ll never be at 100 percent again, but that won’t stop me from living this.”

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