Greg Kinnear loves playing messy lawyer in 'Rake'

Greg Kinnear (WENN.COM)

Greg Kinnear (WENN.COM)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:51 PM ET

The lead character in the new comedy-drama series Rake continuously tries to gather his leaves. But the wind keeps blowing them all over the lawn.

“I like the guy's optimism,” said Greg Kinnear, whose new series Rake debuts Thursday, Jan. 23 on Fox and Global. “He's like one of those inflatable punching bags that you knock down and he bounces back up again.

“In spite of his circumstances, I don't find it depressing. I find it slightly reaffirming that he's back for more. I don't choose that he sticks his finger in the light socket, but the fact that he does keeps me interested in him.”

Kinnear plays lawyer Keegan Deane, a criminal defence attorney who is both brilliant and a train wreck. He is charming, sometimes frustratingly so, but also self-destructive with activities such as gambling.

The fact that Keegan has zero filter makes him the go-to guy for cases no one else would touch. But his seemingly genuine belief that everything is going to work out has an infectious innocence to it, too.

Remember the movie Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp? There's an element of that wide-eyed optimism in Rake, although Depp's Ed didn't have as many personal demons as Kinnear's Keegan, if I'm remembering correctly.

Rake is based on an Australian series of the same name, which starred Richard Roxburgh. When Kinnear was asked if he had borrowed much from the original, he replied, “I wish I were better at stealing, quite frankly.

“Richard is such a wonderful actor and did such a great job in the Australian show. But (this character) wasn't built like a typical television protagonist. That was kind of what appealed to me. The guy searching for something and hitting a brick wall repeatedly, that element, I had played and seen before. But I didn't feel as if I had seen this guy specifically before. He's aspiring to something, but he's just incapable because of his own weaknesses and vices.

“Self-assessment is a difficult thing, and for a guy who has had probably as many missed opportunities as Keegan, you would think that maybe there would be moments of (reflection and self-awareness). But they come kind of later in the season. Out of the gate, no. Not a lot.”

Kinnear has been well-known to audiences since the 1997 film As Good As It Gets, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination. And more recently, he earned Emmy Award nominations for a guest-starring role on Modern Family, as well as his portrayal of John F. Kennedy in the mini-series The Kennedys.

But Kinnear's long resume notwithstanding, he really seems to like his Keegan character on Rake, on something of a personal level. You can hear it in Kinnear's voice.

“I don't know that I'd necessarily want him to represent me,” Kinnear said. “But I don't mean that as an indictment of the guy.”

Oh, of course not. The law, after all, is as free and flexible as a forest of unraked leaves.

Twitter: @billharris_tv

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

 


Photos