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June 2004
De-Lovely : An Interview with Kevin Kline

By Todd Gilchrist

De-Lovely : An Interview with Kevin Kline

In a role that most actors would probably crave for, Kevin Kline brings life to Cole Porter in "De-Lovely". Playing the American Composer, Kevin had inject himself into Cole so much that even his cast members never saw anything but Cole Porter when talking to Kevin. In talking about the film while in LA, Kevin mentioned some things that surprised him.

Ashley characterizes this movie as a love story. Would you agree?

KEVIN: Yeah, I'd characterize it like that.

Did you know or care about Cole Porter before this project?

KEVIN: Loved his music, whatever I knew of it, which was basically "Anything Goes" and "Kiss Me, Kate." I almost did a production of "Kiss Me, Kate" and it fell through at the last minute because of the rights and he wanted to rewrite something and the Cole estate wouldn't change it and the whole thing went away. I was glad because I didn't want to do a year's run on Broadway, frankly, which is what you have to do when you do a Broadway musical.

After researching him, was there anything you found out about Cole that you found particularly surprising?

KEVIN: I suppose the degree of his hedonistic voracious appetite for pleasures of the flesh, pleasures of the eye. He was endlessly curious about aesthetics, smoking, drinking, ballet, music, art, beautiful men, beautiful women, passion for music, and the movie deals with that, among other things, that intensity, that lust for life that fed his work that makes you wonder whether Van Gogh would have been Van Gogh if he didn't go mad.

When did you know you wanted to sing the music live rather than pre-recorded and was it hard for the producers to get you to go on with that?

KEVIN: I realized that I didn't want to prerecord the song and lip sync was when we made the movie of "Pirates of Penzance," which was agony. Even though I had done it for a year on Broadway, we were recording the music in a recording studio two months the cameras were rolling. I asked myself, "How do I know how to sing this? What if I'm upside down?" They said that's how musical movies were made and I said that's wrong.

I found lip syncing insane and especially since I was going to be playing the piano too. I can't "piano sing," "lip sync" and act. Sorry. Not only am I not interested in it, but it's death. I can tell that they can lip sync. It's a generation removed. Woody Allen will not, or at least I'm told, loop a scene post-sync either because there was an airplane or there was something happened with the mic. He will reshoot that scene rather than dub in that one phrase. It loses something, subliminal to the audience's mind perhaps.

If Cole were living in today's times, do you think people and media would have not cared about his homosexuality and would that have affected his music?

KEVIN: I was watching this documentary about Roosevelt and it was fascinating to me that despite the fact that although everyone knew that he had polio and wore braces, they always shot him above the waist. If he were president today, we'd be watching on CNN the x-rays of his last checkup. We've got to know. We have to know all the mythology, we have to know everything. It's the fact that the news media, at the time, colluded by giving him a hero stature. Their attitude was "Let's not talk about it." Everybody knew he was gay. It just wasn't talked about.

The movie has a very interesting look at a love that wasn't sexual

KEVIN: To me, the movie is a disquisition, a meditation, and an investigation into the nature of love. It does ask the question "What is this thing called love?" It breaks the convention of the sexually driven passion between two romantic protagonists in the Hollywood movie. They don't have sex so how can they love each other? Well darling, there are many kinds of love. I think that's what the movie is interested in exploring.


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