A roundtable chat with Kevin Kline of “The Extra Man”

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A highly accomplished stage actor, trained at Julliard under the tutelage of such exacting instructors as the legendary John Houseman, Kevin Kline pretty much started his film career as one of the best of the best, a genuine “actor’s actor” and also something of an old fashioned movie star with the presence to match. His first movie role was opposite Meryl Streep in Alan Pakula’s 1982 Oscar-winning film version of “Sophie’s Choice.” That was followed by Lawrence Kasdan’s Oscar-nominated ensemble dramedy, “The Big Chill,” and a leading role opposite Denzel Washington in Richard Attenborough’s portentous 1987 apartheid drama, “Cry Freedom.”

Though that was followed up by a part in Kasdan’s lighthearted homage to classic westerns, “Silverado,” Kevin Kline’s comic gifts remained under-recognized until his utterly ingenious, deservedly Oscar-winning turn as the murderous and hilariously insecure and pretentious Otto in the farce classic, “A Fish Called Wanda.” After that Kline became one of the screen’s most reliable comic leading men with parts in such high-quality mainstream comedies as “Dave” and “In and Out,” was well as the occasional part in such hard-edged tragicomic dramas as “Grand Canyon,” again with Lawrence Kasdan, and Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm.”

Kline, who recently completed a successful stage run in Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Jennifer Garner, has — like other outstanding actors of his generation — gracefully moved from the A-list to the art-house. Though once noted for turning down movie roles in favor of stage work — John Stewart reminded him of his “Kevin Decline” nickname on his recent “Daily Show” “Colbert Report” appearance — Kline has been a busy and hugely reliable film actor for decades. More recent roles include the screen’s first correctly gay Cole Porter in the 2004 musical biopic “De-Lovely,” Garrison Keillor’s radio detective Guy Noir in Robert Altman’s 2006 swan song, “A Prairie Home Companion,” Jacques in Kenneth Branagh’s version of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” and the 21st century’s version of Inspector Dreyfus opposite Steve Martin‘s Inspector Clouseau in the rebooted “Pink Panther” series.

Add to those the role of the suave but irascible platonic male escort Henry Harrison in Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s adaptation of the Jonathan Ames novel, “The Extra Man.” Taking in a confused and nervous younger protegee (Paul Dano of “There Will Be Blood”), Harrison is an utterly reactionary self-made throwback to another time and place, and an ideal role for an actor gifted with the finest of old fashioned acting virtues.

Kevin Kline and Paul Dano in

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Danger, sex, storytelling, and gratuitious movie violence

Sometimes a commercial can say more about movies than many a blog post.

Via the mighty Roger Ebert

Via me

  

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What’s all this, then? – “Monty Python: Almost The Truth – The Lawyer’s Cut”

If you’ve been checking in on Premium Hollywood over the course of the past few days, then you’ve probably spotted our man Bob Westal’s tributes to the 40th anniversary of Monty Python, and if you haven’t…well, they’re here, here, and here. Python fans will likely have already seen Bob’s finely-chosen clips, but if they’re new to you and made you laugh, then you really ought to be tuning into IFC’s ongoing six-part documentary about the history of the Python organization: “Monty Python: Almost the Truth – The Lawyer’s Cut.” As evidenced by the fact that there’s an Amazon link in the midst of the title, the documentary is indeed being released onto DVD on Oct. 27th, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the remaining episodes as they air on IFC. Those who aren’t obsessive types might find it a bit more Python than they can stand, but it’s definitely the comedy equivalent of “The Beatles Anthology,” leaving no stone unturned from the group’s career, showing their origins, discussing their TV series, films, and infamous live performances, and offering insights from other comedians who’ve received inspiration from the gentlemen in the Flying Circus.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that there is actually a theatrical cut of “Almost the Truth,” which comes in at a decidedly tighter run time of under two hours…and I know this because I was in attendance at the Ziegfield Theater in New York City last week when it was screened. The best bit about it, though, was that the screening was attended by John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, not to mention the group’s female in residence, Carol Cleveland.

Oh, no, wait, that wasn’t the best bit. The real best bit was when, after the screening, the gentlemen took the stage – with Cleese carrying a cardboard stand-up of the late Graham Chapman under his arm – to answer questions which had been submitted by the audience, which you can experience for yourself below:

No, hang on: the actual, honest-to-Brian best bit was the fact that I actually got to meet the Pythons.

Well, mostly.

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