Greg Kinnear will make his debut starring in a weekly television series — playing Keegan Deane on the new Fox show, “Rake,” launching at 8 p.m. Thursday on WFLD-Channel 32.
In a conference call with other reporters this week, the actor joked about the fun of playing a guy who truly is a real rake and quite the scoundrel — but one with something of a lovable side that appealed to Kinnear.
On the show, based on a similar Australian series, Kinnear’s Keegan Deane is a criminal defense attorney with a raft of personal problems — including a big gambling addiction — that often have a big impact on his professional life.
Q: You have never played an attorney. Did you bone up a little bit on edgy characters to help you create this character?
A: Well, specifically defense characters — there’s quite a pantheon of very, very colorful types in this world, both men and women. There’s an inherently despicable rap that I think defense attorneys get as the defenders of people … we all recognize as guilty or think are guilty.
There is a gamble to [playing] somebody who is constantly trying to represent and prop up people who might be somewhat shady. And that notion is probably part of how they get the rap. But I think it’s our job to find the balance of being colorful, being at times despicable, but also being somebody who does believe in something.
Q: How much will this version of the show borrow from the original Australian series?
A: One of the coolest things about the show is the ensemble element of it. We worked really hard to cast great actors in this ensemble. … It starts out a little Keegan-centric as the show kind of starts, but it really evolves and you get to know all of these characters a lot more. … I don’t know what the percentage would be, but maybe 30 percent or 40 percent comes from the Australian show, but I think the rest of it feels very different. So I feel the balance is good.
Q: Since becoming a part of this how, how has your view of the court system changed?
A: I had always assumed [previously] people who might have gotten themselves into some sort of legal entanglement would eventually sit before a jury and kind of go through this whole sort of straightforward, very clean process of justice.
The truth is, you learn that there is not a straight through line on any of these cases. … They’re all varied. Many of them never go to trial or the ones that do, have a whole different expectation than the ones that don’t in terms of outcome and how they’re negotiated.