Read our interview with Kevin Spacey, who stars as the title character, Jack Abramoff, in the new biopic ‘Casino Jack.’ Spacey was recently nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor-Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of Abramoff. Spacey discusses with us, among other things, what it was like meeting and playing the Washington, D.C. lobbyist and businessman, who was just released from prison after being convicted of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion in 2006.
Written by: Karen Benardello
Question (Q): How closely did you follow the Abramoff story before accepting the role?
Kevin Spacey (KS): I was already living in London when it broke. I vaguely remember it because I’ve always had a passion for politics. I’ve been involved in politics for some time. But I didn’t have what I’m sure it was in the U.S. We have this great thing called the 24-hour news cycle, that usually lasts for a week. I kind of remembered it, but not really. After I met George (Hickenlooper, the movie’s director), and we decided to make the film together, I found out I might have the opportunity to meet him. Then I said I’m going to hold off on reading anything, going back and doing a lot of research. I didn’t want to meet him with lots of other people’s commentary. I just wanted to meet the man. Then I started the process of research after I met him.
Q: What kind of research did you do into Orthodox Judaism religious life?
KS: As much as I could. I met with a couple of rabbis, someone taught me how to do the divining. I had to learn some of the Hebrew because George wanted me to be actually saying it. I think I’m relatively grateful that you can’t really hear what I’m saying. I’m sure I didn’t get it all right. That aspect of his character was so fascinating to me. On one hand, he was this extremely devoted religious man who believed in his faith. He consistently did it every single day, it was part of his routine. Yet, he makes a bunch of misjudgments, crosses the line. Yet, maybe in his own head, the good things he was doing, and in his mind, he was doing lots of good things, including giving lots and lots of money away to lots and lots of people who didn’t have it and needed it, justified the other things he was doing. It’s always interesting to find what you look at is a contradiction in someone’s behavior.
Q: When you finally met Jack, what questions did you ask him?
KS: I was mostly interested in the emotional terrain because all of the facts of the case. He may have had his own agenda. I would have known right away if he was being up front with me or not. At the end of the day, I think he was. I was just trying to figure out what he was going through. At what point, if there was a point, when he started to lose the forest for the trees. I think there’s a point where we start to illustrate in the film that he was living in a culture and an environment where lots of this stuff was going down. Lots of people were selling access, and they still are. So then you sort of go, wow. But then after meeting him and other people on his team, people that knew him, people that hated him. I got a lot of different opinions of him. Then I started reading everything. You Goggle his name, and you’re like, Wow, I’m going to be here for a week! Wow, was he made out to be the greediest devil in-carninate that ever walked the Earth. I thought that’s convenient for an industry that wants to pat itself on the back and say, See we threw this bad man in jail, cleaned up our industry. I think we just went through an election where more money was spent than at any other time in our country’s history. So that’s to me what was interesting about playing this guy. He’s symbolic of an environment and culture that’s still happening today.
Read more: http://www.shockya.com/news/2010/12/21/kevin-spacey-casino-jack-interview/#ixzz18mLLd6Lt