Kevin Elliot Pollak is an American actor, impressionist, game show host, and comedian. He started performing stand-up comedy at the age of 10 and touring professionally at the age of 20. In 1988, Pollak landed a role in George Lucas’s Willow, directed by Ron Howard, and began his acting career. Pollak is an avid poker player, hosting weekly home games with some of Hollywood's A-list celebrities. He finished 134th out of 6,598 entrants in the 2012 WSOP, earning himself $52,718.
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You may know me as a comedian, a character actor, or from my chat show.
Now, it's time to get to know me as a comedy-documentary filmmaker of the soon-to-be-awardwinning film Misery Loves Comedy.
Misery Loves Comedy drops TODAY on iTunes and cable VOD and opens in select theaters 4/24! You can watch it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/misery-loves-comedy/id977840932
And for a complete list of cities and theaters, visit tribecafilm.com/miserylovescomedy..
Victoria's going to be helping me out today. Let's chat.
In closing, I sincerely thank you all for your time and interest. Anytime I can get on the interwebz and any of you gives a shit about it makes me embarrassingly giddy.
So thanks. And if you give a shit, and have the time, and a few bucks to waste, check out Misery Loves Comedy, on iTunes, Amazon, Video on-demand. If not, I get it.
No big whoop.
When will you be visiting the compound?
Working on that now. Can't wait.
>I gotta tell ya, getting old sucks. I keep a jar of Crisco and a spatula by the bed so that when I get up to urinate every 15 minutes and my balls stick to the sheets, I can peel them off. Wichita, you're on the air!
Pencils down. No more calls.
We have a winner.
Hello sir! Who are your comedy influences?
Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, George Carlin, Jonathan Winters, and the now-legendary serial rapist Bill Cosby.
Kevin, let’s talk ARNOLD…what were your best memories woking with Schwarzenegger? Did you smoke any stogies with him or pump up in the gym together? What’s your best and worst Arnold story on End of Days?
I did smoke stogies with Arnold.
But I loved to walk by - he had a trailer on-set that was just filled with workout equipment, and I would walk by with a big plate of cake, and laugh in his face.
Hey Kevin! Been looking forward to Misery Loves Comedy since seeing the trailer a few months ago. Have you ever met a partial ocular albino? Also, do you have any stories you can share from making Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men. Those movies are classics with my family. Thanks for talking to us! Keep being an awesome and busy motherfucker!
So the only ocular albino I've met was also a fan of WAYNE'S WORLD 2.
And I was more shocked to see him than he was me.
And... first time I met Walter Matthau on GRUMPY OLD MEN, I made the mistake of trying to make small talk, by saying "Hey Walter...the script was pretty good, huh?"
To which he replied:
"THE SCRIPT SUCKS, Kid. I owe my bookie two million."
You are one of the more famous fans of Opie and Anthony, have you ran into any one that you were surprised was also a fan?
I'm never surprised when I run into anyone that's a fan. Everyone should be.
If I send you some money for you to buy beer will you tell me the Usual Suspects story?????
You don't have to send me the money to buy beer.
You just have to find me in person, and I'll tell you the damn story.
I can't do it here.
What item from the Lost Room would you choose to have if having it in real life was an option?
Oh gosh. Great question.
Wish I wasn't so fucking old and could remember all of the wonderful possibilities therein.
Could you remind me of some?
How did you come up with the Larry King game ?
Our head writer for Chat Show, Jamie Fox, invented the game.
Hey, Kevin, how would Christopher Walken respond to a reddit AMA question?
Serious inquiry. I'm a filmmaker (or trying to be one) I've interned at places, worked at places that have production and some that don't have production (mostly short film sets.)
Now at the age of 25 I'm curious. Just how the hell do I get more active ON SETS in studios/on locations. It seems everywhere one would look it's administrative positions that are far off from anything involved on set.
My inquiry is, do you or anyone you know need a production assistant or something that starts out more on sets with physical production? I have an Executive Assistant position right now at a Business Management firm for Entertainment clients and I find it hard to see the transition from here to on sets. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time!
I'm directing a film in Los Angeles towards the end of June. If you're everything you claim to be, we could use a fine young man such as you. Tweet at me, you sonofabitch.
How do I tell you apart from Sydney Pollack, Jackson Pollack, and Pollack, the fish?
I'm the one that smells the most.
Can you moderate an O&A debate on your dumb show?
No debate necessary.
Although my show is pretty stupid, I loved and laughed and appreciated each of their rants
Hey Kevin. Im a big fan of all your work and your podcast. About 8-10 years ago you did a show at a Kansas City Improv. Afterwards, you came into the Italian restaurant where I worked at the time and I made you a pizza. Then you came over and partied with us at a British guys apartment. That was cool. Are we still friends forever?
I can neither confirm nor deny.
But you're right. That was cool.
Who's the guest Sunday?
I'm v excited for 'Misery Loves Comedy'!
Get John Mulaney on the podcast, please?
John Mulaney has agreed to come on the podcast. We are working out a date.
Kevin, longtime fan. I probably pull up the bit of you doing Albert Brooks as Bruce Wayne once a month. What was the one part that you lobbied the hardest to get and were the most elated to have won?
The very first dramatic role I did, I lobbied very hard and got, which was Barry Levinson's Maryland-set masterpiece AVALON.
Were you shocked when House Arrest got snubbed by the Academy? Your best work, in my opinion.
I'm still devastated, and can barely breathe.
Why would you bring that up?
Of course! How could he not be a fan? I'm sure you brought 1000x more awareness to the ocular albino community. They probably talked about it at monthly meetings for years.
I read that perfectly in Walter Matthau's voice. Thanks for that. Years ago while camping with my grandparents in MN we met an old couple who said they were extras dancing in the Oktoberfest scene. I don't remember if they said it was Matthau or Lemmon, but they claimed one of them was, well, grumpy, and refused to shoot until they tore the wall down in his hotel room to make it bigger and open the place up. No shits given, you were all awesome in those movies. Thanks again!
While I love that you ran into an old couple that were extras in the Oktoberfest scene, they were completely full of shit, because Matthau and Lemmon, the odd couple, lived together in one massive penthouse suite the ENTIRE time we shot.
Can you fill us in on the best Rickles story?
Watching Don Rickles rip Robert De Niro a new asshole on the set of CASINO is still the single most favorite moment I've had on the set of any film I've ever done. I still laugh uncontrollably just thinking about it.
Kevin, you're awesome. Just wanted to be clear on that.
You've been in a bunch of stuff I've loved, and of course your Bill Shatner impression is impeccable. My question is for your famed serious role in "A Few Good Men"
Is Reiner as great with his acotrs as others have put it? Were there any scenes were he got on your case for how you delivered your line (how it's supposed to be said)? And are there any funny anecdotes from that shoot that stand out in memory?
First of all, thank you.
Second of all, are you someone who's known for their taste...?
Rob Reiner gave me the role of a lifetime. All the giant movie stars on that set treated me like an equal from second one, which they didn't have to (or they needn't have).
And in the one scene where my character yells at Demi Moore's character, for offending the two kids who "picked on a weaker kid," I found it nearly impossible to yell at her sincerely, with genuine anger, because Demi - the person - offset had been so historically sweet and nurturing to me (and to everyone else) and I wasn't trained enough as an actor to be remove that from my thoughts. So Rob had to - after 7 or 8 takes - take me for a little walk, and it's the first and only time that's ever happened, where an director walked me off-set and said "What's the problem buddy?"
I explained my difficulty. And he said "Yeah, okay. But the character you're playing REALLY can't stand her."
And I said "Oh. Right."
And we went back in and did it in one take.
Can you do an impression of Kevin Spacey's WRITING?
I don't do an impression of Kevin Spacey, so that's not gonna happen.
When did you first realise you were really good at impressions; was it something that you developed and had to practice, or were you just naturally good at it?
In high school, I was mocking the football coach for my friends at lunch, when he came up behind me and got me into a headlock, and whispered in my ear I heard about it, and I don't think it's funny.
And as I was passing out, I thought "I could probably do famous people, and they would never find me!"
And the rest is history.
Kevin, you masterful comedic genius you. I want you to know that I almost wrecked the morning you were on the Bob and Tom show and did the Walken bit about interviewing him “Marsupials never scared me!”
How often do you screw around with your co-stars while on set? Do you do them just to see if they get it? Have you ever been busted by one of them while doing them for others? What is next on the horizon for you? The next time you do the Bob & Tom Show, can we beg you to do “Off The Air” with Chick McGee?
Will you call my cellphone and leave a message as Chris?
I'd be happy to do "Off the Air" with Chick McGee anytime. Please ask seven more questions at a time, when you get a second. And next on the horizon, after my directorial debut Misery Loves Comedy, on iTunes and on all VOD platforms TODAY, and opening theatrically next Friday April 24th... I've just been asked to direct a comedy feature film.
Is there anyone you wanted to get for Misery but were unable to?
There are plenty. We only had 4 weeks to shoot. We were going to take whomever we could get. Whoever we could schedule. When we started shooting, we had 25 on-camera talent scheduled, which I was thrilled about. And as we were shooting, people kept saying "Yes," and by the end of the four weeks, we had over 60 people.
I used to dislike Sam Roberts a lot too, but in retrospect, he worked really hard to get where he is. I think Kevin should really reconsider his stance of him as well.
You're right. He works really hard.
But I still think my favorite memory is when his parents called in to fight his battles for him.
Also, he's a punk.
Is there any beef between you and Kevin Spacey? If not will he ever be on the podcast?
I mean I can understand hating Stephen Baldwin, he seems like a douche.
Not that I'm aware of.
I'd love to have him on the podcast. If only he'd return my phone calls, that fucking prick.
Have you ever mistaken yourself for a weirder, less funny version of Todd Barry?
At least 3 times a day.
Got any good sex tips?
Pass the butter.
Hey Chat show,
I love that you were one of the original podcasts that were out there. How do you like working with Earwolf? Also from the last year, what has been your favorite interview?
Earwolf is the best damn podcast network on the planet. They're incredibly supportive of our little show.
My favorite interview of the last year?
You have great stories of running into people that you impersonate like Walken and Arkin. Any others?
Gabriel Byrne loves it when I refer to him as "Youfuckya."
Who was the cut up of all the cast in Usual Suspects? You were so brilliant in that flick, btw. Tell me it was the best time ever!
It was the best time ever.
Kevin Spacey and I teaching Gabriel Byrne how to do Johnny Carson was a favorite memory. And Stephen Baldwin showing up wearing leather pants on day one, having not arrive on a motorcycle or a horse... that was a favorite memory.
In THE USUAL SUSPECTS, what effect, if any, did it have on how you played your scenes knowing who Kaiser Soze really was?
We all just had to make damn sure we never got caught making a face or an expression that suggested we knew. Which, for me, is all I ever wanna do - which is to not be caught acting.
I thought your work in Avalon was fantastic and you've consistently turned in wonderful performances in both comedy and drama. Have you ever been intimidated by a role you've played by or a fellow actor you've worked with?
I'm constantly intimidated. Because I'm a comedian, first and foremost, with no formal acting training, and on every film for the last 25 years, during the first week of production, I wait for someone to tap me on the shoulder and say "Oh! We've made a horrible error."
Hey Kevin, what is your favorite way to prepare chicken?
Hi Kevin. My friends and I had a great time in Phoenix for the live KPCS with Matthew Perry. You can remake any film, what would it be and what role would you play?
I'm not in favor of remaking any film as a film lover.
If I had to, you know, like with a loaded gun shoved up my ass... and now I don't really have an answer to my stupid set up.
Just write that.
Your poscast is incredible. Who has been your favorite guest?
Impossible to pick a favorite out of 233 episodes.
Though I'm curious who yours is.
Has anyone ever asked you "Hey, aren't you one of the little guys from Willow? The really little ones?"
Loved you in that film.
Real question, it looks like Misery Loves Comedy is sort of your baby, having the writing and directing credit. What would you say was the most unexpected thing you encountered when making your own documentary?
The most unexpected thing that should've been more obvious is that I would end up with over 60 hours of material. And the instant need to learn how to edit by myself to turn said 60 hours of footage into a 94 minute film without a script, or a narrative.
Hi Kevin. What changes would you make to the Chat Show if you had an unlimited budget?
Oddly, I'm gonna be discussing that this week with some people at the BBC.
that would be great. Any idea what Walken thinks of your impressions?
He loves it. And because he did, I was one of only two speakers (the other being Quentin Tarantino) who was asked to speak at the ceremony when he got his hands, feet and signature in cement outside of the Mann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
What was it like filming Willow?
It was fun being yelled at by Ron Howard every day, because Rick Overton and I (the other brownie) were on the world's largest blue screen stage at the time. They had pre-shot the film in Wales and New Zealand, and Rick and I, covered in face and body make-up paint and designs, with crazy wigs and costumes, were being yelled at Ricky Cunningham for 5 weeks.
A genius experience I will never forget.
The question everyone really wants answered:
Assuming that we live in a world that has walls, and that those walls have to be guarded by men with guns... would Lieutenant Weinberg do it?
I'd like to think, if Weinberg was called to arms, he would rise to the occasion.
If I take the character from the literal creation, I also have to assume he chose to be an attorney for a reason.
Hey Kevin, what's the one line you had the hardest time delivering because you were laughing too much?
Easy answer. The police line-up line from THE USUAL SUSPECTS.
Sounds libelous and therefore must be good. Speaking of the Usual Suspects, I heard that the line-up scene was actually the best outtake and that David Fincher couldn't get you guys to stop laughing and goofing around. It worked out very well but is that true?
Not David Fincher, but Bryan Singer. That is a true story. The now-famous police lineup scene is actually a series of outtakes that Bryan brilliantly turned into arguably the most memorable scene, after a day of shooting where we basically gave him nothing he could use, because we were in fact being idiots and assholes and couldn't stop making me each other laugh and fart.
Don't forget the fart part, man!
Hey, Kevin! I'm a big fan of your podcast.
I just watched the trailer, and it looks great! Good Job!
And since this is an AMA and I have to ask a question... What are your favorite comedians right now? (and don't give me a bullshit answer like "oh, all the people featured in my documentary are my favorite comedians"). Who makes you laugh the most?
Saw Louis CK live a couple of months ago, and found myself laughing uncontrollably.
Bill Burr crushes me like a walnut.
And Amy Schumer is simply at the height of anyone's game.
I think you're hilarious.
Did you see this short comedy titled "Pollack" on YouTube? I thought it was funny.
That reminds me, how yah sleepin?
Yes, I did see it. Thought it was brilliant. Bridley Elliott is a genius.
And in terms of how I'm sleeping - somebody hit me!
What has been your strangest fan encounter?
I'll have to think about that one and come back to it.
Who was the first person you impersonated? I know you have a history of being a fantastic impersonator, but I am curious as to where you got your start doing it. Was it at a young age?
The football coach.
And after that, Marlon Brando from THE GODFATHER.
Do you have a certain time that you view as a golden age of standup? Do you have any non-comedy influences that shaped your style/career?
And I thought the early 80's was a golden age, but maybe some of the people working today - like Jim Gaffigan, Amy Schumer, and Dana Gould - and many others make me laugh harder than I ever have.
Hey chat show, I really enjoy your Kevin Pollak.
I have two questions:
1) Who would you really like to get on the show who hasn't already been?
2) What's the deal with Samm Levine?
I'd love to get Albert Brooks on the show. And Christopher Walken.
Hi Kevin... Big fan of the podcast. Are you working on any new impressions that we might not have heard? Also, any impressions that you just can't do?
There's always impressions that you just can't do. My newest one can be heard on the sixth anniversary podcast, from Largo at the Coronet, I think it's #233, with Dana Carvey and Will Forte. I do Liam Neeson.
Hey Kevin, great to see you on here.
You're a very versatile actor. Is there a role or project that you'd like to try that you haven't been able to yet?
This film I'm about to direct in June is an opportunity of a lifetime. That is to say, I feel I've been preparing for it for 30 years. And also dreading the moment when the world finds out I'm horrible at it.
What would you say is your best accomplishment (aside from your Walken impressions)?
I'm foolish enough to hope that it's my new documentary.
Have you ever been to Europe? and if so what's been for favourite place to visit? .. also hi :)
I still consider my month-long drive through Italy twenty summers ago to be the trip of a lifetime.
Having said that, the world premiere of USUAL SUSPECTS at the Cannes Film Festival is the singular most exciting and impactful visit to Europe.
Mr Pollak my wife is a huge fan and is stuck at work :-(
She's super pissed you are no longer on Mom, but wants to know if you ACTUALLY got stoned in the kitchen scene in Indian Summer. And if so, how many tokes...er I mean takes did it take?
I guess I am an okay actor. Because while there were several takes, there were no tokes.
But since I smoked pot every single day of my life from age 13-22, I had plenty of sense-memories to draw from.
Hey Kevin, what was it like making Deterrence? It's one of my favorite performances of yours
An extraordinary experience. One that I've not had since.
And still consider my finest hour.