Richard Kind Interview

Although he may be a delightful distraction on set, actor, Richard Kind gets serious with Sarah’s Backstage Pass.

In the latest Coen brothers’ dark comedy, A Serious Man, actor, Richard Kind (Spin City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mad About You) plays Uncle Arthur, the brother of a troubled, ordinary man, Larry Gopnik (Tony award nominee Michael Stuhlbarg).  Kind is an inept, unemployable nuisance who can’t seem to move out of Larry’s house, or let alone, get up off the couch.

This comedic-noir surely sets itself apart from previous Coen Oscar winners, Fargo and No Country for Old Men and Kind fills us in on how it’s done!

We are very appreciative that Kind gave us his valuable time for a phone interview.

Backstage Notes:  Kind’s last name says a lot about him. With the time zone difference and Kind’s busy schedule, we played a little game of phone tag.  Kind said he had a friend visiting but would call me back in an hour.  He could have easily brushed off our interview (which was my initial thought) and never called me back. Although, sure enough, my phone rang and there was that New Jersey accent I was hoping to hear. Richard Kind was on the other end apologizing for the confusion and ready to chat!

Jessica Aymond: What is it like working with the Coen brothers? It has been said that they are known in the film business as “the two-headed director” as they share a similar vision of their films. Would you agree that actors could approach either brother with a question and get the same answer?

Richard Kind: It’s easy because they know exactly what they want. They’re smart men and so they can translate it into words. It’s great because one thing that they do on set is something called SIDES. They are pages from the script (dialogue, description) before they even begin filming. It’s a very free and liberal set and yet they (Coen brothers) know exactly what they want. They’re radical in what they want and very giving in how they get there and what you can give back to them.

Jessica Aymond: After first reading the script for “A Serious Man,” what made you want to do this movie?

Richard Kind: It had nothing to do with the script; I just had to do it. If the Coen brothers wanted to do a film about the yellow pages I would do it. I was very lucky to work with them.

Jessica Aymond: How does your character, Uncle Arthur, (who is unemployable and inept) compare to your actual self? Was it difficult getting into this role?

Richard Kind: No. You play pretend that’s what acting is. You pretend that you’re this man.  I didn’t wear the best of clothes and I looked horrible.

Jessica Aymond: You’ve worked on comedies like, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Mad About You,” “The Nanny,” and “Spin City,” would you say that you enjoy comedies most as opposed to other genres of film and TV?

Richard Kind: Nope. If it’s good I just like working. I love doing the musicals. A lot of times it’s whom you’re working with too that makes you very happy.  (Kind just closed the classic Frank Loesser-Abe Burrows musical, ‘Guys and Dolls’ at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine).

Jessica Aymond: I understand you attended Northwestern University for pre-law. What made you decide you wanted stray away from law and go into acting?

Richard Kind: (Laughing) I always try to stay away from law. My father’s best friend was a man who said go out and try your best. Give yourself a shot. If it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t try it.

Jessica Aymond: I see that you have quite an extensive resume – what is your favorite or most memorable project that you’ve worked on?

Richard Kind: I can’t get it down to one. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done. I enjoyed doing, “The Producers.” I did an opera, (Leonard Bernstein’s) Candide at the New York City Opera, which I liked…there are so many things!

Richard, thank you so much for chatting with me today.

Closing remarks from Richard about his latest film, “A Serious Man”:
It’s a very good movie. I’m very proud of it and I’m proud to be in it. It’s really quite good.

September 1, 2009