Rake's Greg Kinnear on His Brilliant, Tragic Character: "He Learns Nothing"

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Greg Kinnear | Photo Credits: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Rake star Greg Kinnear says he's nothing like his disheveled, broke, womanizing character, but executive producer Peter Tolan begs to differ.

"[On Day 1], Kinnear showed up drunk with a hooker named Tammy on his arm, claiming it was a part of his process," Tolan joked Monday at Fox's Television Critics Association winter TV previews, reading from his "journal" that also poked fun at the controversy over Girls' nudity, dining at Les Moonves' house and not ever speaking of Dads. (This, by the way, comes from the guy who previously took off his pants at a TCA panel.)

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The Fox drama, adapted from the Australian show of the same name, follows Keegan Deane (Kinnear), a brilliant defense attorney who's also a gambling addict and owes both the IRS and his bookies more than he has. By his side are a bevy of women who can't seem to shake him. Although the "lovable mess" is a common TV trope, Kinnear says that there is nothing clichéd about Keegan, which is what attracted him to the role.

"[The role isn't] kitschy and about a 'lawyer with a heart of gold,'" Kinnear told critics. "He learns nothing and makes sizable mistakes, but at the end of the day he's brilliant at [his career] in spite of the self-destructive mechanisms in his life. What appeals to me is that mix ... and that he wasn't built, to me, like a typical television protagonist. There are probably people whose DNA fit in this suit better [than me], but it's irrelevant to the job. That absolute lack of need for approval is a hugely attractive thing, so getting to play a guy who's not necessarily interested in what you think he is, is a really cool element."

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That's not to say the character won't grow and become more self-aware, albeit at a very slow pace. "We're on Episode 10 right now where he has moments of reflection and [knows] where he is on the map," Kinnear said. "Certainly out of the gate, there's very little [self-awareness] and I think that's probably true of most people."

With Kinnear on board for the series, creator Peter Duncan, along with Tolan, had one major caveat for the project: Keep the title. When asked about the audience's knowledge of the intended meaning of the word as an immoral characteristic and why they didn't just make it Keegan's last name, Duncan admitted, "There were discussions at different volumes concerning [the] title. It reflects the duality about it, not that he's just the guy who 'wine, women and song'; it's also the garden implement, cleaning up the gutters in this world. And I didn't think it would respect the American audience to make it his surname; it's too easy. The show respects the audience's intelligence and doesn't try to find a lowest common denominator."

Rake premieres on Sunday at 10/9c on Fox. Will you tune in?

 


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