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posted: 4/17/2014 5:00 AM

Trial and error lead to Kinnear's career

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  • Greg Kinnear, star of the new faith-based drama "Heaven is for Real," is enjoying a year of diverse acting challenges.

    Greg Kinnear, star of the new faith-based drama "Heaven is for Real," is enjoying a year of diverse acting challenges.

  • Video: "Heaven is for Real" trailer


5 Qs for Greg Kinnear
Time to play Five Questions with Oscar-nominated actor Greg Kinnear, star of the new drama "Heaven is for Real," now playing at local theaters.

Q. Is it my imagination, or are you on a real roll right now in terms of how diverse your acting portfolio has become?

A. Yeah, given the guy (Keegan Deene) I play on "Rake," backing that up to a pastor I play in this movie, then playing a mind-reader and a shrink in "Anchorman 2." Yes! It's been a very varied year.

I've covered the entire spectrum of the human condition in 12 months! It's really been fun. I don't take for granted the ability to try different stuff. It's really been a great asset in working to do both drama and comedy and be able to mix it up a little bit.

Q. Your pastor in "Heaven is for Real" strikes me as a difficult character to play simply because he's written to be fairly bland. Do you work a little harder to make him interesting?

A. He doesn't have a lot of eccentricities. He wears many hats, and I was grateful he wasn't the one-note pastor I've seen so often represented in many other movies. There's an every-guy quality to him in the sense that he's a firefighter, a wrestling coach and a guy who installs garage doors. He's passionate about his wife, which is unusual in a man of the cloth.

Q. You were born and grew up in Indiana. So what qualities separate Midwesterners from people in other parts of the country?

A. The Midwest is funnier than people on the coasts. They get it, you know? When I started "Talk Soup" years ago, I got more mail from the Midwest than anywhere else in the country. They recognized there was something new and different. It's those cold winters, man. Keeps them inside and keeps them thinking!

I know it sounds like a silly generalization, but I do think there's a warmth and a real sense of community when I come back to this part of the country. It stands out.

Q. Why become an actor? Why not a dentist, salesman or doctor?

A. I tried selling cable subscriptions in Tucson, Arizona. and that didn't work out well. I tried selling light bulbs and electrical equipment, and purchasing for a company, and that didn't work out well. Then I tried marketing for a low-budget film company and I wasn't particularly adept at that.

So, I guess I ended up here after a long process of elimination. All the things I can't do have led me here. There is some truth to that, but the other truth is that I still have passion for this. It never feels like a job to me. It's never felt like I've worked in a movie, ever. That's the truth. I love it.

Q. What's the best part about being Greg Kinnear?

A. That I'm not Bernie Madoff.

'Bottle Rocket' fires up
The Chicago Film Critics Association presents a special showing of Wes Anderson's 1996 movie "Bottle Rocket" that gave actors Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson their career starts. The movie begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at the SMG Wheaton, 301 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton. The show is part of the theater chain's "Film With a View" program. Film critic Locke Peterseim will introduce the film. Go to for tickets.

• Dann Gire's Reel Life column runs Fridays in Time out!

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