Kevin Kline Returns to the Spotlight With New Old Friends in ‘Last Vegas’

Movie Talk
Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas in 'Last Vegas'
Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas in 'Last Vegas'

Kevin Kline is a rarity. He's one of those unique actors who is just as adept at heartbreaking dramatic work — like his screen debut in 1982's "Sophie's Choice"— as he is in gut-busting comedies (his Oscar-winning role in 1988's "A Fish Called Wanda" comes to mind). But in the last decade or so, he's also been a different sort of rarity. That is to say, he just hasn't been that visible in high-profile movies. So where has he been?

In the years since 1999's disastrous "Wild Wild West," Kline has divided his time between leading roles in well-regarded but little-seen indies like "Darling Companion" and "The Extra Man" and smaller parts in Hollywood comedies like the first "Pink Panther" remake with Steve Martin. But this fall he'll be back in a big way as one of the leads in "Last Vegas," a comedy about four old friends who head to Sin City for a bachelor party after one pal finally decides to settle down with a woman half his age.Watch the exclusive new trailer premiere for 'Last Vegas':

What brought him back to the spotlight? In a phone conversation with him from New York, Kevin Kline said the big draw was acting with three acting titans that play his best friends in the film: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, and Morgan Freeman. Kline said, "None of us had ever worked with any of the others. None of us had worked together." Kline said he new the other Oscar-winning stars socially, and while he doesn't consciously have a list of people he hopes to work with, he conceded, "Had I made a list they would have all been on it. They were all actors whose work I had admired greatly over the years."

Kevin Kline and wife Phoebe Cates
Kevin Kline and wife Phoebe Cates

Kline stated that while he has worked with the same people multiple times — like John Cleese and his "Big Chill" director Lawrence Kasdan — part of the appeal of this movie was venturing into new territory with an unfamiliar cast and director. He said, "Sometimes it's more attractive to work with someone completely new, in the hopes that something new will be brought out of you. Some undefinable, ineffable, weird thing that's probably in my head but doesn't really exist for all that I know."

Of course, he was still working with some of the most seasoned and highly esteemed actors in movie history. "No rehearsal. We just jumped in," Kline said. "That's part of the fun. The way a particular actor works, and the way you work. It just feels fresh because its someone new." He said that while each of them had very different acting styles, they did find common ground, particularly when it came to straying from the script: "Some actors like to improvise more than others. Some don't like it at all. We all liked it enough. No one said, 'Hey, will you just say the line as written!'"

"Last Vegas" also marks the big screen return of Michael Douglas after his successful battle with throat cancer, following his Emmy-nominated turn as Liberace in the hit HBO movie "Behind the Candelabra" (a very different sort of Vegas story). When asked what surprised Kline about his first time working with Douglas, he answered, "What did surprise me was the degree of vulnerability. I saw a kind of sweetness and sensitivity and vulnerability. The guy's hurting, and it was very palpable." While the trailer emphasizes the wacky comedy in the movie, Kline said, "There are moments in the film that are very, very touching."

Kline went on to say the whole trio went to emotional places he wasn't expecting: "I saw that not only in Michael but also Bob De Niro. Both of them have played really tough, tough people. And I don't mean just physically tough guys. I'm not talking about 'Raging Bull' or the guy in 'Wall Street,' Gordon Gekko. Morgan, too. Morgan has played God more than once, as well as presidents, and Nelson Mandela and world leaders. And here was this kind of goofy guy that we haven't seen. In all three of them I saw things that I haven't seen before."

Sensitivity would have to be important for the scene that concludes the trailer, where a hungover Kline finds himself cuddling up in bed with Freeman. Kline said that their decades of experience meant that even getting that close was just another day at the office for them: "The trick there was just to stay awake; to know when they're rolling the camera. We've all been at this for a while, so the idea of, 'Now I'm snuggling in a revolving bed with Morgan Freeman. Woah, this is weird man!' No. There was no conversation. You just did it. These are professional actors, and we do what we do."

You'll get to see Kline, Freeman, De Niro and Douglas do what they do when "Last Vegas" hits theaters on November 1.