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A television host-turned-actor with a flair for snarky satire, Greg Kinnear made the unusual leap from talking head to big screen stardom, earning an Oscar nomination for one of his first outings, James L. Brooks' "As Good as it Gets" (1997). Kinnear hosted entertainment segment shows before finding the perfect outlet for his sarcastic repartee on "Talk Soup" (E!, 1991-2002), a daily compilation of talk show highlights emphasizing the grotesque and bizarre, which, at one time, became the most popular program on the fledgling E! Entertainment network. The show's hip cache boosted Kinnear's profile and after a failed segue to late night talk shows, he began appearing on film in a familiar capacity as wisecracking, boyish supporters. Kinnear's romantic comedy output met with uneven reviews, but after an assortment of misfires, he took a turn towards higher caliber, character-driven films like "Auto Focus" (2002), "Little Miss Sunshine" (2007) and "Flash of Genius" (2008), while shining as John F. Kennedy in the controversial miniseries "The Kennedys" (Reelz Channel, 2011) - all meatier, dramatic roles where the deceptively complex actor found steadier critical success.The youngest of three sons of a...
A television host-turned-actor with a flair for snarky satire, Greg Kinnear made the unusual leap from talking head to big screen stardom, earning an Oscar nomination for one of his first outings, James L. Brooks' "As Good as it Gets" (1997). Kinnear hosted entertainment segment shows before finding the perfect outlet for his sarcastic repartee on "Talk Soup" (E!, 1991-2002), a daily compilation of talk show highlights emphasizing the grotesque and bizarre, which, at one time, became the most popular program on the fledgling E! Entertainment network. The show's hip cache boosted Kinnear's profile and after a failed segue to late night talk shows, he began appearing on film in a familiar capacity as wisecracking, boyish supporters. Kinnear's romantic comedy output met with uneven reviews, but after an assortment of misfires, he took a turn towards higher caliber, character-driven films like "Auto Focus" (2002), "Little Miss Sunshine" (2007) and "Flash of Genius" (2008), while shining as John F. Kennedy in the controversial miniseries "The Kennedys" (Reelz Channel, 2011) - all meatier, dramatic roles where the deceptively complex actor found steadier critical success.
The youngest of three sons of a U.S. State Department diplomat, Kinnear was born on June 17, 1963 in Logansport, IN. His father's work meant that the family was raised on the road; first in Washington D.C., then such locales as Beirut, Lebanon and Athens, Greece, where the natural born comedian hosted his own radio show at the American high school he attended there. Kinnear returned to the states, where he earned a degree in Broadcast journalism at the University of Arizona in 1985 and immediately moved to Los Angeles to break into show businesses. In Hollywood, he landed a few bit parts on television but had more luck as a quick-witted host/correspondent on entertainment-oriented cable offerings before hitting the public's radar on "Talk Soup," on which he offered up daily commentary on the era's glut of sensational daytime talk shows. In addition to hosting the mercilessly cruel but Emmy-winning showcase from 1991 until 1994, Kinnear also served as a writer and producer, and was consequently courted by the powers that be to assume a prominent place in broadcast TV.
Kinnear's stock rose during his "Talk Soup" run, with Fox allegedly interested in having him replace Chevy Chase in their late night talk show slot; Disney wanted to discuss a possible sitcom and talk show; Rob Reiner proposed a syndicated talk show; and CBS reportedly wo d him for the slot after David Letterman. Ultimately, Kinnear took an offer to replace Bob Costas on the late night interview show "Later" (NBC, 1988-2001). The revamped "Later" added a live audience, occasional comedy sketches and an introductory "videologue" in which Kinnear reacted to the day's events. The formula failed to attract "Talk Soup" loyalists and the show was short-lived, but by this time, Kinnear's good looks and cheeky personality were being courted by film directors. He did not disappoint in his film debut - albeit playing a talk show host - in Damon Wayans' superhero satire, "Blankman" (1994). The following year, he stepped into the William Holden role in Sydney Pollack's remake of "Sabrina" (1995). It was a no-win proposition, with the film suffering endless comparisons to the beloved original, but Kinnear emerged relatively unscathed, impressing with his sharp turn as the profligate younger son.
Bumped up to star status, Kinnear seemed well cast to play the lead role of a con man-turned-postal worker who takes on the job of answering mail addressed to the Almighty in "Dear God" (1996), but the surprisingly unfunny offering from director Garry Marshall was skewered by critics and barely made a dent at the box office. Kinnear bounced back from his inauspicious film beginnings to earn Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his performance in James L. Brooks' "As Good as It Gets" (1997). The highly acclaimed hit co-starred Kinnear as a gay artist struggling to recover from a violent crime who forms an unlikely friendship with his crusty neighbor (Jack Nicholson) and a diner waitress (Helen Hunt). He was given less to work with creatively but scored another hit in the Nora Ephron/Meg Ryan romantic comedy, "You've Got Mail" (1998), where he co-starred as Ryan's newspaper reporter boyfriend. His next pair of films were significantly lower profile, with the ensemble superhero send-up "Mystery Men" (1999) residing solidly in "cult film" territory, while the disappointing romantic comedy "Loser" (2000) was a widely criticized financial flop.
In a small but fun supporting role that kept Kinnear associated with successful romantic comedies, he was cast as a soap opera star and object of attention of an ardent fan (Renee Zellweger) in "Nurse Betty" (2000). The neo-Gothic thriller "The Gift" (2000) proved a disappointment despite direction by Sam Raimi and an all-star cast which included Kinnear as the meek lover of a trampy socialite. Kinnear was back to showcasing the rakish charm as a dashing TV producer who unceremoniously dumps his talk show host lover (Ashley Judd) in the moderately successful romantic comedy "Someone Like You" (2001), before taking a marked turn into less predictable roles. HBO's adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning exploration of marriage "Dinner With Friends" (HBO, 2001) began to mine Kinnear's depths, as did his ensemble role in the Vietnam-era drama "We Were Soldiers" (2002). He took a turn towards the dark side in "Auto Focus" (2002), starring in the biopic of "Hogan's Heroes" (CBS, 1965-1971) TV star Bob Crane, whose secret life of sexual escapades was discovered after he was found murdered in his Arizona apartment. Kinnear showcased an ability to render complex, morally ambiguous characters, which was sadly little-seen in this limited release gem from Paul Shrader.
There was also a minimal audience for his next outing but they did not miss out on much with "Stuck on You" (2003), a buddy comedy starring Kinnear and Matt Damon as combative conjoined twins. Ditto for the science-based thriller "Godsend" (2004), about a couple who raise a clone of their dead child with chilling results. Kinnear broke into the family film market with a voice role in the CGI-animated hit "Robots" (2005) and took on a second successful kid-oriented role in Richard Linklater's remake of the baseball classic "The Bad News Bears" (2005), where Kinnear made an excellent villain as the coach of an opposing Little League team. But whereas "Bears" failed to stir much admiration, Kinnear's follow-up effort leading the ensemble cast of the indie "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006) was among the most talked about films of that year. Kinnear received numerous kudos for his strong performance as a hopelessly optimistic but annoying motivational speaker who embarks on a road trip with his dysfunctional family to take his young daughter to compete in a beauty pageant.
"Little Miss Sunshine" charmed critics after making a splash at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, and Variety dubbed Kinnear's effort as one of his best. While the unexpected hit was still in theaters, Kinnear was also seen in the inspirational sports drama "Invincible" (2006), the fact-based tale of improbable NFL player Vince Papale - a part-time bartender-turned-special teams star on the Philadelphia Eagles. Kinnear played coach Dick Vermeil, who hoped to turn around 11-straight losing seasons by holding open tryouts for Philadelphia locals. Kinnear kept his momentum going with a supporting role in the blockbuster comedy "Baby Mama" (2008), where he played the love interest of health food executive and wannabe mom, Tina Fey. Later in the year, Kinnear proved that his cynical edge had settled into an easy, likable charm in "Ghost Town," where his role as a ghostly yuppie who recruits a man (Ricky Gervais) to intervene in his widow's (Tea Leoni) love life earned him comparisons to Cary Grant.
In his third major film appearance of 2008, Kinnear took the lead in the fact-based drama "Flash of Genius," starring as an inventor hobbyist who presents intermittent windshield wipers to the Ford Motor Company and eventually sues the automaker for adopting his creation without credit. The film marked another dramatic breakthrough for Kinnear, whose stock continued to rise and whose history as a smarmy talk show host receded even further into the distance with his solid run of respectable films. Following feature turns opposite Matt Damon in Paul Greengrass' war thriller, "Green Zone" (2010), and playing the father of a rebellious Miley Cyrus in "The Last Song" (2010), Kinnear turned in a finely tuned performance as President John F. Kennedy in the controversial miniseries, "The Kennedys" (ReelzChannel, 2011). Even before a single frame was shot, writer and executive producer Joel Surnow - notorious for his rightward political leanings - was criticized for numerous historical inaccuracies and unflattering portrayals of the family. Even historian David Talbot, whose novel Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years was cited as source material, came out against the production. By the time it was set to air, original broadcaster The History Channel changed course and refused to run the miniseries. After a series of negotiations and high-profile cable outlets bowing out, fledgling station ReelzChannel stepped in and aired the miniseries in April 2011. Though reviews were mixed, Kinnear earned a great deal of praise for his performance, as well as an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. The following year, he earned another Emmy nod, this time for his guest appearance as Phil's new business partner on an episode of "Modern Family" (ABC, 2009- ).
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"... after I made the decision to pursue a career as an actor, it was so clear to me how much I had underestimated the task ahead -- the whole process of making a movie: It was, and is, so overwhelming that to try to do that while I was harboring other interests was crazy. Since then, I've tried to focus on this gigantic learning curve. I don't know where I am on the curve at any given moment. I have a feeling it's not very far off the bottom horizontal line." --Greg Kinnear to Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2001.
"I've heard the suggestion that people who get into this business have a tendency to have grown up in a number of different spots, and that by moving from place to place, you're having to constantly reinvent yourself and be accepted by people. So you grow to REALLY want to be accepted, to really want to have people like you. It sounds like psychiatric gibberish to me."--Greg Kinnear, quoted in Us, July 1994.
"Setting goals can blind you to opportunities. You might be trying to get to point C. When opportunity B comes, you don't even look at it because you're going straight to C. I've never had a clear road map. When things come along, I benefit." --Greg Kinnear, quoted in USA Weekend December 15, 1995.
"He's engaging, charming, quick-witted and from Indiana, like David Letterman," he says. "There must be something in the water there. They have a similar perspective." --talent manager Rick Baker on Kinnear in USA Today, November 10, 1993.
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