Casino Jack was released on Blu-Ray and DVD today and in honor of the film’s release, we sat down with one of its stars, Jon Lovitz. In the film, Lovitz plays Adam Kidan, the former owner of SunCruz Casinos and former president of Atlantic & Pacific Mattress Co. Kidan is also an acquaintance of lobbyist Jack Abramoff (played by Kevin Spacey), and together they both end up pleading guilty to fraud charges. The film follows Abramoff and takes us through his career as he rises to power only to be caught up in a massive corruption scandal.
Lovitz sat down with us to discuss how he got involved in the film, why he chose not to meet the real Adam Kidan, his favorite scenes in the film and more. Check it out below, audio version included at the end of the page.
We Got This Covered: Hey how’s it going?
Jon Lovitz: Great thanks.
WGTC: How familiar were you with your character of Adam Kidan and the whole case of Jack Abramoff before you signed onto the film?
JL: I wasn’t familiar at all. I’d never heard of Adam Kidan and with Jack Abramoff I remembered that he was on the cover of Time Magazine as the Super-Lobbyist, and then I remember hearing about the scandal a few years later, but I really didn’t know what it was about. But then Kevin Spacey recommended me to George Hickenlooper, the director. and I became attached to the film.
They locked me in and I talked to George and he was nice, and I read the script and I thought it was ok. I didn’t know who George was but I felt ‘well, the director makes the movie, do I wanna work with this guy?’ and then I thought ‘well, I wanna work with Kevin’ and then I thought, ‘if he’s good enough for Kevin, he’s good enough for me’, and Kevin was signed, so I did it. And I’m happy I did, I had a great time, George is a wonderful director, a wonderful person and he made a great movie, it’s so tragic that he died.
It’s one of those movies where the cast became friends and so did the producers and the director, and we would hang out after the movie was made, which is very rare that that happens and it was a great experience and everyone in the movie did a great job. But I didn’t know hardly anything about it to be honest, I read up on it and learned but I mostly based my character on the script.
WGTC: This is a bit of a change for you, usually you do comedy films and this is more drama, based on real events, why did you decide to go for the change?
JL: It’s not that I decided to go for a change it’s just that I got a call that they wanted me for this movie. And it was an opportunity, I said to George, ‘it’s a drama’ I didn’t even think of it as a comedy to be honest at all and I just said, ‘can I do it? I wanna play the character really real and not bigger than life’ which I’m asked to do most of the time. A lot of times they don’t want a real character they want that thing I always do, but George said ‘yeah you can do that.’
And I talked about the character with him and he liked it and then he added a lot to the character and made a huge difference. So it was really enjoyable. I had a scene with Maury Chaykin and the guy’s such a great actor, he was so real and I remember thinking, ‘I gotta be right in sync with this guy otherwise he’s gonna blow me off the screen.’ You want to be in sync with the guy but he was just so great that you just couldn’t tell he was acting, it was amazing. I just had to keep up with this guy, he was amazing.
WGTC: I’ve read in past interviews that you had the chance to meet Adam, but you didn’t want to?
JL: George asked me if I wanted to talk to him on the phone, cause he’s in prison, and I said no because I knew I had to play the character in the script, and also the guy’s in jail for fraud and he said he didn’t murder, but the guys he hired were arrested for it and I didn’t want to get mixed up with someone like that, that’s a real person who’s in prison and a criminal and I didn’t want anything to do with him.
WGTC: But you weren’t even curious, just because you were portraying him in the movie?
JL: No I was more scared to talk to somebody like that, a guy was murdered, it was a real thing. I didn’t know what it was like I didn’t want him to be mad at me, saying ‘I don’t like the way you played me, after you talked to me’ and then kill me. I just played the character in the script, so if it’s anywhere close to him it’s just luck. You have to play what’s in the script, there’s a couple of pictures on the internet and one video of him walking from far away but that was it.
WGTC: Out of curiosity, what was your favourite scene in the movie, do you have one?
JL: There’s a lot of them, I like the scene with Spencer Garrett and Kevin and I enjoyed my scenes with Kevin when I’m yelling at him, you know by the pool. I thought the scene with Maury Chaykin was great, the scene with him in the coffee shop that was terrific. With Kevin I guess the opening monologue in the beginning of the movie and the scene when he’s getting fired in the Japanese restaurant I thought that was great. I like the whole movie, I thought George made a terrific movie.
WGTC: The film deals with themes like influence and power, it seems like Washington is similar to Hollywood, did you draw that relation also?
JL: Yeah because it’s a definition of politics, ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’. I really didn’t understand politics in Washington till I was inside Hollywood, you know you try to get a role and everybody’s lying and manipulating, and then I started watching the news and politics and was like ‘oh now I get it’. It’s the same thing because it’s people trying to get something from somebody else and lying and manipulating and doing whatever they have to do to get it, making concessions and compromises. Politics is politics whatever the business.
WGTC: You’ve been rumored to be attached to the upcoming Kane and Lynch film, can you confirm or deny that?
JL: Well I actually I just talked to a reporter before you and he mentioned that, I don’t know anything about it.
WGTC: So it’s just a rumor?
JL: Totally, I’ve never heard anything about it. People tell me ‘Kane and Lynch is a comic.’ and my answer is ‘it is?’ I’ve never heard of it. But if it’s a great movie and these guys want me I’d be thrilled but I don’t know anything about it. You and the guy before are the only times I’ve heard anything about it, I have no clue.
WGTC: So what’s next for you, what films do you have coming up?
JL: I know I’m doing a movie, I forget the name and that will be shot in Paris and the cast isn’t finalized yet, eventually I guess it’ll be up on IMDb. I also have my own comedy club at Universal city, the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and I do my stand up act there every Saturday night either 8 or 10. And then I have, Kevin Smith – the director, he does these podcasts with Jason Mewes and he does one of those every week, and then he does one with Ralph Garman a radio personality and head of entertainment on K Rock and voice over actor called Hollywood Babble-On. They’re all on iTunes and they’ve been doing it in my club recently and Adam Carolla has been doing his podcast in my club, and it’s terrifically entertaining and it’s selling out the club which is great. I’m eventually going to be doing my own podcast or two, it’s very exciting.
WGTC: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us and good luck with everything.
Be sure to check out Casino Jack, now out on Blu-Ray and DVD.