By Phil Contrino
2008 has been a busy year for Greg Kinnear.
In April, he starred opposite Tina Fey in Baby Mama and most recently he teamed with another comedic television actor, Ricky Gervais, in last month's Ghost Town.
Now, with Flash of Genius, Kinnear has taken a step into a more dramatic territory.
Genius is the story of an inventor named Bob Kearns who spent years of his life battling the Ford Motor Company after they stole the intermittent windshield wipers that he developed.
The idea of playing a real-life person is not new to Kinnear. In 2006, he took on the role of iconic pro-football coach Dick Vermeil for Invincible and in 2002 he portrayed Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane in Paul Schrader's unflattering biopic Auto Focus.
Yet for Kinnear, the experience of playing a real person versus playing a fictitious one isn't all that different.
"You try to find some bits and pieces that feel true and honest, you know, based on the script and the story you’re telling and kind of mold those into the character,” said Kinnear.
Long-time producer Marc Abraham ( Children of Men, The Family Man ) made his directorial debut with Genius, and Kinnear found that working with a first time director has its rewarding moments as well as its challenging ones.
“The challenge of working with a first-time director is in terms of how they are going to interpret the story, and tonally what they are going to bring to the story is hard to define because they don’t have a body of work behind them that you can reference as an actor and say, ‘Oh, I see, you do these kinds of movies.'"
Kinnear also would like to take a step into directing some day. He's just waiting for the right opportunity.
“Sometimes I think actors can be driven by the wrong forces to direct and it’s really got to be something that you’re deeply passionate about ... a story that you have to tell, not just because you can or that you have some friends that will do it with you. But you really need to have some sort of authentic connection to what it is you want to do and that’s got to be the motivation."
Flash of Genius opens this Friday.
To listen to the rest of our interview with Greg Kinnear,