Kevin Kline Honored at Film Festival Gala

The Chicago International Film Festival 50th Anniversary Gala

He’s played the president, Hamlet, a cartoon character (Andre the cook) in Tales of Desperaux and even a cowboy in Silverado  during his career, which is closing in on 40 years. The Chicago International Film Festival bestowed Academy-Award winning actor Kevin Kline with the well-deserved Career Achievement Award at the 50th Anniversary gala on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Proceeds from the evening’s event benefit Cinema/Chicago, a non-profit arts and education organization that supports an Education Outreach Screening Program, which brings more than 6,000 Chicago Public School students to film screenings each year.

“Kevin Kline’s ability to transfix movie-goers was evident from his earliest appearances in such celebrated films as Sophie’s Choice and The Big Chill,” says the festival’s founder and artistic director, Michael Kutza. “As he matured as an actor, the breadth of his talent has been proven over and over again. From his outrageously comedic turns in A Fish Called WandaDave and In & Out to the heart-wrenching drama of The Ice Storm and Life as a House, Kevin Kline is one of the most versatile performers of his generation and truly deserving of the Chicago International Film Festival’s Career Achievement Award.”

Just before the festive summer gala began, I spoke with Mr. Kline about his interview with Stephen Colbert and my all-time favorite Kevin Kline movie, De-Lovely. When asked to comment on his 2010 interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report,” which was anything but mundane, Mr. Kline responded, “On his show, Colbert is playing a character, so already it immediately puts the interview into a totally surreal context. It’s temporaneous and I didn’t know what he was going to ask. He launched into a tongue twister exercise:

Oh what a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two, A thing distinctly hard to say but harder still to do, And they’ll beat a tattoo at twenty to two, a rat-a-tat-tat, a tat-a-tat-too, And the dragon will come when he hears the drum, At a minute or two to two today, at a minute or two to two.

Colbert didn’t know that I happened to know that tongue twister and I joined in. It was fun, because it was spontaneous and unscripted. Colbert is so funny. I love his show.”

On getting into character for his role as musician Cole Porter: “The movie going audience would never know that I am at least a head taller and look nothing like Cole Porter. There was previously a movie about him played by Cary Grant in 1946, Night and Day. For me, there was no real attempt to play him except that he is a Midwesterner and so am I. I didn’t try to mimic the way he looked or the way he talked. I mimicked the way he played the piano. He was known for playing very loudly. He was also known for not singing very well. I also don’t do a very good job of singing. It’s very easy to act as a non-fictional character that people recognize, you can put a lot of energy into the impersonation which I can’t given my neurological configuration, it is hard to juggle those two things. I try to avoid playing recognizable characters.”

A meritorious tribute for a most deserving recipient.

Getty Images Photograph



About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.