Kevin Spacey’s latest flick, “Casino Jack” has had its fair share of headlines, some which could do nothing but help the film’s release and others which shook the entire cast to their core.
To the many unfamiliar with the story of Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey), Casino Jack recounts the true events of one of Washington’s most high profile, eccentric and influential lobbyists, and his very public undoing.
Just a few weeks following the film’s release, one of the central personalities in the film, former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison for money laundering, news that (luckily for the studio) is likely to spark renewed interest in the back-story of DeLay’s involvement with Abramoff. While DeLay is only now looking at the prospects of entering prison, his former pal Jack Abramoff was recently released after spending three and a half years behind bars.
With what seemed like all the stars aligning for the film’s release, tragedy struck. “This has been the most bizarre couple of months,” describes Kevin Spacey to Moviehole’s Tim Johnson at the film’s New York press day. Referring to the sudden death of the film’s director George Hickenlooper who passed away from an accidental overdose while in Denver for the film’s premiere, he says, “I mean, to not have him with us, has just been very, very difficult.”
Spacey does lighten the mood though when he predicts Hickenlooper’s reaction would be of Spacey’s Golden Globe nomination.
“He’d be pissed he didn’t get nominated! I know George, trust me! ‘What the f*** is wrong with those f***ing people?”
In a more serious tone, Spacey admits that Hickenlooper would be proud of the nomination.
“I know that for George, it would have meant the world that people might have taken an interest in seeing this movie. So if getting nominated helps people want to go out and see the movie, that would have made George very happy.”
He also credits the director with much of the film’s tone.
“George had a sort of mantra from really the first day that we met and started talking about the film which was, ‘I don’t want another f***ing boring movie about Washington. I want f***ing “Goodfellas” in D.C.”
Unlike so many political dramas, this was a story which involved very distinct characters who Spacey says leant themselves to the big screen.
“Some of the stuff, you couldn’t write this sh*t. And I think in the case of this film, because again it’s a case of very larger than life characters, outrageous situations, misguided choices, yada-yada-yada, plus a guy who sort of had this affinity for Hollywood and the movies and did all these impressions and stuff which was great, because I was able to infuse the film with that kind of tonal stuff which really I think, just ends up helping a movie like this be just entertaining.”
Spacey was given the opportunity to meet Abramoff while he was still in prison and reveled at the opportunity.
“So, I didn’t read anything, I didn’t do research at all, I just wanted to go meet the man and sort of be able to take as much from him as I could. And I came away feeling he was very open and upfront. Then I went and spent two days in D.C. meeting his whole team of lobbyists, a lot of other lawyers, people that knew him, people that liked him, people that hated him, people that felt he didn’t get as many years in prison as he should have. And within all that, try to come up with what you think is reasonable within the tone of this film, human being. And to try to humanize somebody who had been hugely dehumanized.”
Spacey, who has been focused on his theatre company in London for the last eight years says he’s only now finding the time for film again.
“We’ve been running and we’ve got incredible staff and things are going incredibly well, I’ve been doing more central roles in films than I’ve had the opportunity to do. However, even though this film, and I’ve got a film that opens at Sundance called “Margin Call,” and I did a film for Warner Bros. called “Horrible Bosses” that will be on in the summer, even though I’ve got sort of a bunch of movies that are going to be coming out, starting in May I’m doing “Richard III” with Sam Mendes and that will take me from May until March of 2012. That I would say is a very long commitment and I don’t think I’ll be having any time to do any movies in between that time. But my hope is to continue to do film. I love film, I’ve been very, very grateful I made the decision I made.”
– Tim Johnson
“Casino Jack” is now playing.