Q&A: Kevin Kline Talks Dogs and his New Movie ‘Darling Companion’Published April 25, 2012
Photo by Wilson Webb, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Kevin Kline stars as Joseph Winter in Darling Companion. Diane Keaton plays his wife Beth. They’ve hit friction in their relationship. Diane is neurotic and emotional—freaking out over her empty nest—while Joseph is a busy, pompous surgeon who is always on his cell. Diane discovers an abandoned dog by the side of the road. She falls in love with him and names him Freeway [Kasey]. While Joseph is alone with the dog, and on his phone, the dog gets lost. During the rest of the movie everyone is franticly searching to find the dog.
Do you like dogs?
Kevin Kline: I’ve always had dogs. I grew up with dogs. My family adopted a rescue 12 years ago who is, happily, still with us.
What about rams?
We have no rams. [Joking] They were difficult to work with. No, actually they were fine but dogs are easier.
How’d you like working with the snake?
I like animals—snakes I’m a little concerned with.
Did you ever lose a pet?
One of my early traumas as a child was watching my dog get run over by a car. I was 10 and alone in the house. My dog got too close to the wheel of a truck he always chased and I watched him get run over. I’ve had other dogs get lost but not for days and they always found their way home.
In the movie your wife consulted a psychic. Is that something you’d do?
I love the way the gypsy psychic [Ayelet Zurer] functions in this movie because you’re never quite sure if she is real or not. What you are sure of is that she believes in giving people hope. Whether my wife and I would’ve consulted one, I doubt it. But if one materialized in our home, which is what happened in the movie, maybe, but I tend to be very skeptical.
Did you enjoy the Rockies location?
I’ve been there for the Sundance Film Festival but that’s in January when the nature is dead. This was fall and it was a beautiful place to work and I had beautiful people to work with so it was fun.
What attracted you to this role?
I liked the role because, like other characters Larry [Lawrence Kasdan] has written, whether it was The Big Chill or Grand Canyon—which were companion pieces to this—the characters are interesting and not solely what they seem. They are complex. A well-written character will have flaws. I liked that this guy, Joseph, is a bit of a jerk and referred to as “a prick” by his own daughter.
Did you envy Richard Jenkins’ role?
I love Richard. I’ve known him since college but never worked with him. He turned Russell into a great, colorful character. Before Larry cast the Big Chill, I asked about the People magazine reporter or the actor. I loved the parts Tom Berrenger and Jeff Goldblum played. They were funnier. More neurotic. I liked the guy who was a TV action star. My part was just a regular guy but I’d just done Sophie’s Choice and decided it might be good to play a regular guy after playing a paranoid schizophrenic.
You’re famous for declining roles. Have you ever regretting turning down a role down?
No. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it would be successful. It was something I didn’t want to do at that time—either because I’d done something similar or just gotten a funny vibe from the director. This movie was a joy because Larry is someone I want to spend months with.
What does it take for a script to grab your attention?
I don’t know. I just trust my instincts. There’s not a lot of rational thinking that goes into it. Agents think, “You should do this now because it will be commercial. You’ve done two independent films in a row that 14 people have seen. Let’s do something big.” And I go, “Okay, but have you read the script? It’s stupid. It will appeal to the lowest common denominater.” I’ve done some stupid films, don’t get me wrong, but in general, I don’t want to do things because they’re commercial. I want to do them because I enjoy it.
Do you read reviews of yourself?
How does it feel to watch yourself on screen?
I try to avoid that as well.
Have you viewed Darling Companion?
Yeah, I have seen this movie. I was very curious. When I first started out, I’d go to dailies and analyze and criticize the movie and myself but that can be very disruptive. When I do theater I avoid people backstage. It interrupts the work so I sneak out.
What did you think of this group of accomplished actors?
Sam Shepard is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose plays I’ve seen since he started out. He’s also a wonderful actor and funnier than I’d expected. It was nice getting to know him. Diane Wiest I’ve known for years and had seen her work but it was surprising getting to know her as a person and get a front row seat to watch her process. Diane Keaton is unique. Getting to know her and work with her, yeah, that was refreshing.
What’s on your bucket list for acting?
I’ve always loved Don Quixote. If a film or play version came along and I didn’t have to sing I’d jump at that.