Read our roundtable interview with actor-comedian Jon Lovitz, who portrays Adam Kidan, the former owner of SunCruz Casinos and former president of Atlantic & Pacific Mattress Company, in ‘Casino Jack.’ The new comedy biopic, which was directed by the late George Hickenlooper, follows the career of Jack Abramoff, a Washington, D.C. lobbyist and businessman who bought SunCruz with Kidan. Both Kidan and Abramoff pled guilty in 2005 for their purchase and handling of SunCruz, among other financial crimes.
Written by: Karen Benardello
Question (Q): The movie’s director, George Hickenlooper, recently passed away. What was like to work with?
Jon Lovitz (JL): He was the best. I was talking to the president of ATO, which is distributing the film, and said “I became friends with George,” and he said “I became friends with George.” The cast, everyone wanted to become friends with him. He was just the nicest guy. He was very humble, very intelligent, very articulate, really nice. He was just great. One reason I think the movie works is because he was so good to all the actors. So everybody just gives their best work. He always said “You’re such a great actor,” he made you feels so great. I was with him at the Austin Film Festival Wednesday and Thursday (October 27 and 28, 2010) and he died Saturday (October 30) night.
Q: How did you find out?
JL: Well, Spencer Garrett (who plays Tom Delay in the movie) called me. I was crying, it was horrible. We were both crying. I’m not ashamed to say it. It was a shock, horrible. We were all, Kevin Spacy (who portrays Abramoff in the film), me, Spencer, everyone in the movie, were all thrilled to be in a really good movie. I haven’t been offered roles left and right, but the ones I have been offered weren’t good, and I said I didn’t want to make another bad movie. It turned out to be a great movie. George said “You’re great in the movie.” I said, “You made the movie, and I’m glad you didn’t cut my scenes.” I said, a movie’s out for three months, and then after that it’s on DVD forever. But I’m proud to say I’m in a really good movie, a great movie. At the Austin Film Festival, they had the screening, and the audience loved it. I mean, they laughed at everything and every moment. Then there was a question and answer period. George, I can tell you what he said basically. When he grew up, his mother was very political, and was a leftist. He went to Yale, and became a Republican. About six years ago, he became a Democrat. He goes, “Now I think it’s good when the parties change. It’s good for awhile, and then the Republicans get greedy, and things should change, and then they change back. That’s kind of how he felt, he was very politically oriented. That’s why he was so interested in this.
Q: When you were looking up information on Kidan, when you were looking up the role, what was your first impression of what he was like?
JL: I’ll tell you, there was hardly anything on him on the Internet. I found two pictures of him, and some video of him walking to court. So the first picture I saw, he was pretty bald on top, but he had red hair. But he’s smiling really smart, like this (he smirks). In the movie, I did that a lot. The next picture of him is in court, his hair’s all white, he looks like this (he opens eyes really wide, and has a surprised look on his face). So I said, “Oh, there’s two opposites right there.” So how do you get from that to that? Then I read on-line, I had to, about the case and about SunSail (what the cruise line is called in the movie), but it’s really called SunCruz. It’s all real. Kidan started a sandwich chain in Canada, which is still there, in Toronto, then went down to Ft. Lauderdale. (Land-developer, SunCruz casino operator and restaurant owner) Gus Boulis was killed. The guys arrested for the murder worked for Kidan. George said “Do you want to talk to him (Kidan)?” and I said “No, he’s in prison, maybe he murdered this guy.” I didn’t want him to be mad at me, and say “You didn’t play me right.” It didn’t matter, because at the end of the day, you have to play him like in the script, that’s who you’re playing. So I used that, and what I read. Certain things, one of the first things you do as an actor, you look at what all the other characters say about your character. Look at Kelly Preston’s character (she plays Abramoff’s wife, Pam), after she meets me, she has this scene, and she says (to Kevin) “Why are you working with that guy?” She’s completely grossed out about him, disgusted. So that tells me what I have to do to make her say that. In that scene, if you watch it, I’m hitting on her, winking at her, a complete sleaze. Was he like that? I don’t know, but that’s what was in the script. So that’s what you have to play.
Read more: http://www.shockya.com/news/2010/12/18/jon-lovitz-casino-jack-interview/#ixzz18mIPWuYd