Kinnear | Can Ya Hear The Purr?
an emily blunt interview
Photo by Jeff Vespa - ©WireImage.com - Images
Greg Kinnear is a sweet and talented guy. I remember when I
first spotted the mansteak oozing his charms on E! Oh, sure
he's a big celebrity now and doesn't want to think about the
"early" days. But I tell you he single handily brought
millions of viewers to the "new" cable station to
see his bit during Talk Soup. He wasn't just cute he was legitimately
Thankfully he was noticed and moved on to film, where he excelled
again. Someone Like You, As
Good As It Gets, Nurse Betty
and The Gift to name a few tasty
tidbits. Now he's heading the cast in Auto
Focus. The often-brutal story about Bob Crane of Hogan's
Heroes fame. Wow. It's really a role suited like a custom Armani
for the talented Joe. Like Crane he started in communications
and has that mid-America charisma fastened to his being. Slurp.
Crane, Kinnear seems well balanced, happily married and pretty
together. Recently we had a chance to sit and chat. It's no
secret to those that read BR.com regularly, I'm smitten with
this palooka and if he weren't happily married to some gorgeous
gal I'd have flirted but I have some respect believe it or not.
He was cruel....smartly dressed and gregarious...I nearly swooned.
But enough about my overtly obsessive desires, let's jump into
the cinnamon bun sweet world of uber cutey Greg Kinnear shall
Good to see you! You're late ![with a giggle and a wink]
No, no... I was in the girls room
I doooon't think so. I been here for...what twenty? [Laughter]
Yeah okay. Look I was right behind you in the hall see! You
leaped in front of me - you watch it handsome!
I should get Gregkinnear.com [laughter]
Good idea. Um, wow! What a performance young man! I understand
you watched the "real" tapes of Bob Crane's sexual
escapades to , er, get into the character of Bob?
Thanks. And yeah. Paul [ Schrader] educated me - in what didn't
take a very long time - in the dark seedy world of " Bob
Crane's World of Home Movies." And a little goes a long
way. It's not like you have to go, "Oh, there's that,"
and, "Okay there's that
" and, "Oh and
getting it." You know the most startling thing about Bob's
collection was less about the sexual nature of it, because it
was what it was, but it was the volume of it! There's
just reams and detailed documentation and chronology of all
of these events! It was quite amazing.
How'd you get involved with Auto Focus? This is pretty
risky stuff here!
I was pretty stupid I think. [laughter] My own naivety worked
out quite nicely. I didn't realize till afterwards when people
started saying, " Hey, pretty risky" I started to
I know that
[laughter - gosh he's swell when he does these impromtu impressions
I didn't give it a great deal of thought I thought the script
was good. And the story was something that I was interested
in and dealt with issues and subject matter relevant to today.
I have done comedy and dramas and this struck me as a contemporary
tragedy. I thought there were elements I thought were sadly
funny and disturbing and other at times just
sad. You're always as an actor trying to find new roles and
challenges. This was a little scary, but that's not always bad!
Most of the jobs I've taken the more thoughtful I've been about
the project ahead of time the more satisfied I've been with
Was this an easy role for you since you are similar in backgrounds?
Well, you know I think there are big differences between
Bob had a transitional period. Bob went from radio to television
and I guess I went from television to film to a certain extent.
But the bigger issue in terms of a comparison that people have
about us is the awareness that people have about him not me.
Which was so staggering. He was a radio personality first. He
was enormous. He was kind of a Rick Dees meets Howard Stern
type guy. A lot of big stars went on his show. He was known
around the country as making groundbreaking work. And when he
went on to the TV show he might as well have been one of the
"Friends." George Clooney! [ he says well knowing
my adoration for Georgie] That's how big it was. I was working
at 1:35 in the morning before I started film work and it's not
like I'm setting the world on fire [laughter]. I've done some
a few that have done well but it hasn't been
the same level of exposure. And it was that level that was the
significant thing for him. Because it was his fame that in some
ways derailed him and also his fame that allowed him to indulge
in the lifestyle he may not have indulged had he not been famous.
He did and a nature of addiction took over and it worked out
the way that it did.
Good point. Geeze celebrity doesn't have enough pitfalls huh?
And I tell you people know where you come from
Oh they DO don't they [laughter]
Paul Schrader [the director of Auto Focus] said it was because
of your E! days he thought of you. And he felt, or knew, you
could handle the role because of the diversity he'd seen on
film as well as that E! persona which was Bob-ish. See, it's
not always bad to be "known."
Maybe that's true. My first introduction to the movie was actually
Scott and Larry who did Man on the Moon and Larry Flint. They
were the ones that initially called me about this role. I read
it and was blown away and I thought it kind of caught the spirit
of this guy. I was "attached" - I love saying that
[giggle] Nobody's ever really attached till a movie's done of
course. Paul heard about it,and me "attached" and
thankfully was agreeable to direct it. Because I did think we
needed somebody like Paul that understood the dark nature of
that kind of persona to do this kind of study of this kind of
character. You needed a guy who'd been down this road and of
course he's been down it many many times over. Comedic elements
of the movie? Hasn't done a lot of comedy, Paul, but I was encouraged
that he just understood Bob in a way that even I couldn't and
he definitely helped me through the role.
You're kind of a celeb do you get these offers like Bob
mean all the free video equipment and stuff of course?
[wink] Oh yeah, equipment
women [hearty laughter]. Um,
seriously ya know as a celebrity yes sometimes
a lot of people around that can enable you. A lot of
times "celebrity" can magnify who the person really
is. If you're a jerk you'll probably be a bigger jerk! And if
they are trying to do something good, you can raise money and
your celebrity will allow you to do more. Who
knows though? It's a tricky thing. I still don't understand
what it means.
What's next Gregory? I can't wait to see it [oops I batted my
lashes! Flirted. Damn my evil ways ]
I don't know.
Well, I am still swirling with delight from this last project
for you! I can't think of anyone who could have done "Bob"
better! You came up with so many little mannerisms and ticks
that really exuded Crane to us.
I had a lot of help from Bob Crane Jr. He was wildly helpful.
He was twenty-five or so when his dad died and knew his dad
really well. He provided a lot of smaller details and filled
in the blanks on who Bob was. Because mostly it wasn't like
we were doing Nixon- you just know that person- the only way
you know Bob Crane is from Hogan's Heroes. Who he was off camera
is much more interesting to me than who he was on camera. I
looked at things Bob Jr. had; albums and an amazing log book
his dad kept of the families water polo ball games. Bob would
keep these detailed ledgers on which kid made what shots and
how many goals each kid made, who was guarding who, what the
win/loss ratio was
they were so fascinating and detailed
that it was clear to me this guy had an obsessive nature about
him. In terms of his vocal quality there were hints in his radio
works Bob Jr. shared with me. Very langiush and had this [Greg
does a Casey Casem voice] show business patter to him. There
were not a lot of middle grounds for Bob it was either up here
or down here.
You think the sad and violent end of Bob Crane's life was inevitable?
No I don't. I think that Paul and I have differed on this issue.
He believes that Bob was always the guy that he was the hypocrisy
just fell away once Hogan's Heroes went away. He just couldn't
fake it anymore. I believe that he was sinking. And your lifestyle
choices have ramifications. I think that some of the choices
and what he decided to participate in had real consequences.
I do believe that by taking some of those earlier steps that
he took it probably led him into deeper and deeper water. And
eventually your trying to swim [ he pauses and get a serious
serious look] But ya know Emily the truth is nobody really knows.
There's no answer for it.
You think he was in the wrong profession for his addictions?
Oh yeah. Absolutely. It's like an alcoholic working as a bartender.
He was absolutely in the wrong profession.
Emily: Was it harder or easier to play a real person? To keep
There's a burden of authenticity when you're doing a non-fictional
you can fill in the blanks. When you're playing
a real person there's evidence of who that person is. There
are choices that you are not free to make. They have already
made them and you need to pattern certain aspects of your performance.
They have to tie into these choices. So in some ways it's more
difficult. On the other hand you have stuff to view. In Bob's
case I was able to watch hours of Hogan's Heroes, his movie
work, read letters he'd written and listens to his radio broadcasts
and get a sense of the guy. It helps in forming performances
that you otherwise can't get. I think it's tough whether they
are fictional or not and they have each have their own unique
stopped - he was exhausted from all the chatter. I went in semi-smitten
and emerged firmly smitten (platonically speaking) and deeply
respectful. Greg's smart and witty - just the way I love them.
Ah, but in all honesty his wife is great too. They're a handsome
couple and a lucky couple. They fit. Greg's man heroin looks
and charms aside, under all that weight of raw grade A manmeat
is a true talent that has, with each role he delivers, been
steadfast in its growth. I said it before and I'll say it again
- this guy's got it! Go on go see Auto
Focus, or rent As Good as it Gets, indulge in
the one they call Greg.