Greg Kinnear knows how to be intensely dramatic [Auto-Focus], comically romantic [Sabrina] or just deeply human [As Good As It Gets]. But as Matt Damon’s co-joined brother? Well here’s a side of the unpredictable actor we haven’t seen before. Paul Fischer caught up with the ex-TV journalist in New York.
Question: TELL US HOW YOU MET MATT DAMON?
Kinnear: Well, Ben Affleck and I go way, way back. He and I are bestest friends, so whatever you’ve heard about Matt [Damon] and Ben, forget about it. It’s me and Ben.
Question: HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHICH OF YOU WOULD PLAY WHICH TWIN?
Kinnear: I wanted to play Cher and they wanted to go with her. Cher. No, they kind of came at us with the notion of me being Walt and Matt being Bob.
Question: MATT SAYS IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE OLDER.
Kinnear: Here we go to the age thing. Huh? Just like that. Can’t help yourself, can you?
Question: WERE YOU BORED DURING THE HOURS OF MAKEUP?
Kinnear: We watched a Tom Green movie one morning. Nothing to do during this time. And played video golf.
Question: WHEN YOU WERE SITTING THERE FOR 12 HOURS, WAS THAT THE POINT WHEN YOU WONDERED WHAT YOU WERE DOING?
Kinnear: We kind of knew how good it would like and how important it was for the movie, you know, and so we were excited about it, like, boy I hope they get this right. But yeah, we did it six times and by the fifth and six times we had to sit for that process, then we were going, man, I’m not looking forward to tomorrow morning. And the point is, those aren’t our hairy backs.
Question: FAKE BELLY BUTTON TOO, RIGHT?
Kinnear: Crazy huge belly button, right? Like weirdly large.
Question: DO YOU DO RESEARCH FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS?
Kinnear: On any serious, important film that’s being considered for an Oscar nomination, I do research. You know, I was actually working on another movie right before this, when this happened, and only had a few before, I went from that to this. Usually I do give a great deal of forethought and zone in on characters and all sorts of things like that. Never before have I just stuffed something away in the back cupboard of my brain more than this, because it was just such a crazy concept, and I just kind of felt like, at least for me, this is going to have to be discovered through the process, not before. And I’m kind of glad it worked out that way, because much of what ended up in the movie in terms of tonally, what the relationship is between Don and Walt, what our characters are, and the story, and a lot of the good jokes that are in it, happened while we were making it.
Question: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING WORKED WITH JACK NICHOLSON ON ‘AS GOOD AS IT GETS’?
Kinnear: Well, at the risk of promoting his movie, if it’s opening the same day as ours…Jack, he’s a remarkable guy. I was humbled to work with him. There’s nothing I can say, to add to the Jack Nicholson equation of mythology. He really is a brilliant actor, he faced some stiff Oscar competition the year that he won for ‘As Good As it Gets,’ but there can only be one winner. We’ve been dueling it out, we both had a had in each other’s worlds that year, actually. No, I got nothing but great things to say about him. He’s amazing, he’s really coming into his own.
Question: WERE THERE ANY JOKES YOU WOULDN’T DO?
Kinnear: See the movie, you can see there’s pretty much nothing we refused.
Question: WHY NO TOILET SCENE IN THIS MOVIE?
Kinnear: We did a lot of toilet scenes but they ain’t in the movie. You put this harness on and you’re kind of, you’ve got your dance partner for the next 12 hours. So we just had to work through a lot of personal issues. I like the tone of the movie, it’s different than a lot of their other films. In some ways it’s similar, but I just really responded to what the story was about and thought it would be kind of an interesting exercise. I knew when it was over, and when it was done, you can’t say this about a lot of movies. There was no risk of people sitting there in the theater and saying, ‘oh, not one of these films again.’
Question: DID YOU SEE MATT DAMON ON ‘WILL AND GRACE’?
Kinnear: That was the best guest episode of a sitcom, maybe, one of the best ever. I didn’t give you a handclap for that. Brilliant!
Question: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR ‘TALK SOUP’ SHOW DAYS?
Kinnear: It was an incredibly fresh environment. There was no show like it when we started, and I really, it was a great experience for me. I felt like we really could do anything, and everything was possible, and yet nobody was watching the show for the first two years it was on so it was kind of in a vacuum, and even when they were watching it, it was just on E!, it was so small. It was really a cool environment, I had a great group of people that I worked with. A lot of the comedy in that show was provided by Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer, so I didn’t have to do much.
Question: WAS THERE ANY COMPUTER ANIMATED GRAPHICS IN THIS?
Kinnear: [laughing] Sorry, that was all CGI. But what we’re doing to duplicate, to make the CGI look like it actually works, was by us.
Question: THE STUFF WITH FLIPPING THE BURGERS?
Kinnear: No, no, that’s real. [laughing]
Question: SO NONE OF THAT STUFF WAS REAL?
Kinnear: There is a great deal in that kitchen stuff that’s us, and mixed in with that, very nicely, by the way, are a few CGI tricks that really make it work. But, you know, we needed the help with that, but we do do a lot of it ourselves.
Question: WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
Kinnear: I did a movie with Robert De Niro. Bob De Niro, maybe you’ve heard of him. It’s called ‘Godsend,’ it’ll come out in March. In terms of what I’m doing next, I don’t know, I just had a baby, so I’m being a dad. No, not personally. I didn’t personally have a baby. Indirectly I had a baby.
Question: WAS IT FUN WORKING WITH CHER?
Kinnear: Cher’s great, she’s incredible, we both came to know her and love her. She is an enormous, enormous star, who goes anywhere and crowds fall her and people follow her, and yet she’s a disciplined actress and she’s down to Earth and cool. I can’t say enough good things about her.
Question: DO YOU HOPE TO DO MORE SINGING?
Kinnear: I don’t know. It depends on the project, I honestly hadn’t done a lot of singing, and Pete had this crazy nothing that that song belonged at the end of the movie somehow, and gave me the CD and said, ‘you should learn this song. Or else it’ll be stupid.’ So I just kind of played around with it. It’s a Billy Stewart song. I listened to it, and then went and recorded a version of it, and we got an up and coming actress, Meryl Streep, to come in and work with me. She learned a lot. I don’t know, she’s amazing. It was great, it was absolutely great. I got to do a scene with Meryl Street and musical theater and Bonnie and Clyde, man. I’m done. I could be done.