Rake, Season 1 - Greg Kinnear
Rake, Season 1 - When Keegan (Greg Kinnear) ©2014 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Warwick Saint

Academy Award nominated actor (As Good As It Gets) Greg Kinnear takes on the title role of Rake in Fox’s new drama, premiering on January 23rd, 2014.

The character-driven series is based on a popular Australian show of the same name and spotlights the comedic and chaotic life of criminal defense lawyer Keegan Deane. He’s charming and frustrating  with a staggering lack of discretion, but with a resolute optimism and belief in justice.

Kinnear came to the TV Critics tour last week to talk about his rakish new role.

What is your personal take on your character?

Rake, 101 - Greg Kinnear
Rake, 101 “Serial Killer” – Keegan (Greg Kinnear) finds his car has been crushed at the impound yard ©2013 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Jordin Althaus

Well, I don’t know that I’d necessarily want him to represent me (he laughs).

I don’t mean that as an indictment on the guy. Without it being kitschy and without him being a lawyer with a heart of gold, there’s a lot of episodes where he learns nothing, and he makes sizable mistakes as we go forward.

But I think at the end of the day, that he is for the most part brilliant at that aspect of his life, in spite of all the other self-destructive mechanisms in his life.

What appealed to me was that kind of mix. When I first met Peter (Duncan, the creator of the series) on this over a year ago, I was like, ‘What does this man learn each episode?’ and Peter said, ‘Not a lot.’

In the Australian show he wasn’t built like a typical television protagonist. That’s what appealed to me. The good thing is, he probably doesn’t charge very much for representation.

Were you surprised to be cast in this role? Do you see yourself as this character?

Rake, 101 - Omar Dorsey and Greg Kinnear
Rake, 101 “Serial Killer” – Keegan (Greg Kinnear, second from L) and his bookie, Roy (guest star Omar Dorsey, L), enjoy a game together at a sports bar ©2013 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Richard Foreman

I don’t know. I suppose there’s probably people whose DNA might fit into the suit a little better, but it’s irrelevant to the job as an actor. I was intrigued immediately when I saw the show as to the mess of that guy.

The absolute lack of need for approval is a hugely attractive thing, especially if you’re an actor. Getting to play that and getting to pursue a guy who’s not necessarily interested in what you think was a really cool element for me.

Lots of people know what a rake is in terms of a personal characteristic, but lots of people won’t know. Have you ever in your life called anyone a rake?

Oh, yeah. all the time! (he laughs) Long history of calling people ‘rake’ in my family and in my life, and I’ve been referred to as rake just this morning, numerous times!

You started with comedy, in this you get to do comedy and drama in the same hour, is that something that interested you?

Rake, 102 - Omar Dorsey, Greg Kinnear, Deven Long and Bruster Phoenix Sampson
Rake, 102 “A Close Shave” – When Keegan (Greg Kinnear, second from L) needs protection from his bookie (guest star Omar Dorsey, L), he gets help from his latest clients – a group of reformed Amish men (guest stars Deven Long, second from R and Bruster Phoenix Sampson, R) ©2014 Fox Broadcasting, photo by Richard Foreman

Yeah, I think it’s probably not done very often because I think it is hard to do. We have the good fortune of a bunch of great writers, and so it’s been fun to try and bridge the gap. It’s tricky to try and find that comedy/drama balance.

The Australian show succeeds very much in that. It really struck a nice chord between the drama and the comedy, which is what appealed to me doing that mix, so it’s certainly what I think I was most intrigued by, in terms of getting on board with this.

How much self-denial or self-aware does he have of his problems?

I don’t think he has a great self-awareness. It comes in fits and starts. There have been moments over the series, we’re on episode 10 right now, where they’ve surprised me.

There are moments where he has a little bit of reflection about where he’s on the map. But certainly out of the gate, very little, and that’s probably true of most people.

Self-assessment is a difficult thing, and for a guy who has had probably as many missed opportunities as Keegan has had, you would think that maybe there would be moments of that, but they come later in the season, but out of the gate, not a lot!

After the panel I asked Greg if he was ever concerned about having to play the role for several years, should the series become successful? Click here for his reply.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130745525″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.