The Usual Suspects
“As my wife puts it, as long as the leading man needs a best friend or an attorney, I'll continue to work. You know you have to bring your own thing to it and fortunately if you have a director offering me the part because he wants me to bring my own thing to it, I'm going to be able to do that. I like to think that I choose things that will have an impact on the story so I won't be just a filler.” Kevin Pollak on being a supporting actor
A former stand-up comedian who switched to character actor in 1995, Kevin Pollak has made a name for himself as a versatile actor with more than fifty movies and a number of TV projects under his belt. Frequently cast in films as the best friend or intimate characters to the leading men, he captured the attention of mainstream audiences with his roles in such hit movies as Rob Reiner's “A Few Good Men” (1992), “The Usual Suspects” (1995, won a NBR Award), “Grumpy Old Men” (1993) and its 1995 sequel, “Grumpier Old Men,” “End of Days” (1999, earned a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination), “The Whole Nine Yards” (2000) and the 2004 installment “The Whole Ten Yards.” First gaining notice in Barry Levinson's highly praised drama “Avalon” (1990), Pollak was also seen in “L.A. Story” (1991), “Wayne's World 2” (1993), Martin Scorsese's “Casino” (1995), “Miami Rhapsody” (1995), Rod Lurie's “Deterrence” (1999), “The Wedding Planner” (2001), “3,000 Miles to Graceland” (2001), “The Santa Claus 2” (2002) and “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” (2006) and “Hostage.” His more recent and upcoming credits include “Numb” (2007), “Otis” (2008), “Two: Thirteen” (2008) and “Soulmates” (2008). Pollak received a Golden Satellite nomination for his work in the miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” (1998).
As a popular comedian, Pollak is known for his bang-on impersonations of other actors, most notably Christopher Walken and William Shatner, and his HBO special “Kevin Pollak: Stop With the Kicking” (1991), which was directed by comedian David Steinberg and produced by Boston comedy writer Martin Olson.
Pollak has shared his life outside the limelight with his wife of 13 years, producer/actress Lucy Webb.
Bay Area Native
Childhood and Family:
Kevin E. Pollak was born on October 30, 1957, in San Francisco, California. He moved to San Jose, California, when he was two years old and would live and work in the Bay Area until age 26 when he headed to Los Angeles. Kevin has a brother named Craig Pollak.
Kevin has been married to actress Lucy Webb since December 1995. Together, they founded Runs Calm Down Productions.
End of Days' Sidekick
Kevin Pollak started doing stand-up comedy routines when he was 10 years old by lip-syncing Bill Cosby recordings. He got his first paid gig eight years later when he worked one night at a nightclub in the city of Campbell, California. Avoiding college for comedy, the Bay area native emerged as a touring player at age 20, and then in 1982, he took second place in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition. He moved to Los Angeles the following year to launch a career in film and television.
While waiting for a break, Pollak continued to do stand-up and landed work in such clubs as the world famed The Improv. He also perfected his precise impersonations of Peter Falk, Christopher Walken and William Shatner, among others. In 1984, Pollak landed the role of Barry Gold on National Lampoon's “Hot Flashes,” a syndicated comedy series also starring Mark King and Lois Robbins. He made the leap into feature films three years later with the dud “Million Dollar Mystery” (1987), by director Richard Fleischer. Pollak was next seen in the short-lived CBS series “Coming of Age” (1988), in which he portrayed the domineering manager of a retirement community. Later that same year, he returned to the silver screen to play a three-inch tall Brownie in the Ron Howard-directed “Willow,” opposite fellow comic Rick Overton. Back to his comic roots, Pollak enjoyed some popularity with his first solo comedy special, which was broadcast as part of HBO's “One Night Stand” (1989). He also became a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”
It was in 1990 that Pollak experienced a screen breakthrough when he was cast as the business partner of Aidan Quinn in “Avalon,” an acclaimed drama written and helmed by Barry Levinson. Recognizing his potential, directors and casting agents soon flooded Pollak with a series of challenging roles. In “L.A. Story” (1991), Mick Jackson cast him alongside Steve Martin as an unprincipled agent who sleeps with Martin's girlfriend, and Pollak offered a noticeable dramatic turn as Sam Weinberg in the military courtroom drama “A Few Good Men” (1992), opposite Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. Under the direction of Rob Reiner, the actor gained significant praise for his performance and was subsequently put on the map. Previously, Reiner and Pollak had worked together in the CBS comedy series “Morton & Hayes” (1991), in which Pollak starred as Chick Morton, opposite Bob Amaral as Eddie Hayes. The show, however, was soon canceled. 1991 also saw Pollak star in HBO's “Kevin Pollak: Stop With the Kicking.” He also worked in the films “Ricochet,” opposite Denzel Washington and John Lithgow, and “Another You.”
Pollak scored box-office victory with the 1993 comedy film “Grumpy Old Men,” playing the son of Walter Matthau and Daryl Hannah's love interest, Jacob Goldman. He also portrayed Jerry Segel in Mike Myers' “Wayne's World 2” (1993) and was seen with Dana Carvey, Valeria Golino and James Earl Jones in “Clean Slate” (1994). Pollak showcased his dramatic flair portraying explosives expert Todd Hockney, in “The Usual Suspects,” from which he won a National Board of Review for Best Acting by an Ensemble (shared with Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne and Benicio Del Toro and others) and as a front man in the Martin Scorsese directed “Casino” (both 1995). He also gave a comedic turn as Sarah Jessica Parker's faithless spouse in “Miami Rhapsody” (1995) and reprised his role as Jacob Goldman in the sequel “Grumpier Old Men” (1995). Also in 1995, Pollak started his recurring role as Mr. Bell on “The Drew Carey Show,” which he played until 1996.
Following the uneven comedy “House Arrest” (1996), costarring Jamie Lee Curtis, Pollak appeared as Victor Kosslovich in “That Thing You Do!” (1996), directed and written by Tom Hanks, and acted in such hitless movies as Kiefer Sutherland's directorial debut, “Truth or Consequences, N.M,” (1997, as the hostage) and the low-budget crime melodrama “Outside Ozona” (1998). He went on to appear in the teen comedy “She's All That” (1999) and was nominated for a Blockbuster Entertainment award for Favorite Supporting Actor in Action/Science-Fiction for his work in the apocalyptical thriller “End of Days” (1999), where he delivered a stand-out performance as Arnold Schwarzenegger's sarcastic sidekick, Bobby Chicago. He again gave a convincing performance as President Walter Emerson in the Toronto-screened thriller “Deterrence” (1999, released theatrically in 2000), directed and written by critic-turned-filmmaker Rod Lurie. Meanwhile, on the small screen, Pollak portrayed Apollo Program Manager Joe Shea on the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” (1998), for which he was nominated for a Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, and starred with Nancy Travis in the soon-canceled CBS sitcom “Work With Me” (1999), in which he also served as co-executive producer with wife Lucy Webb.
Entering the new millennium, Pollak took on the comic role of Hungarian gangster Janni Pytor Gogolak in “The Whole Nine Yards” (2000), which starred Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry. He followed it up with a supporting part as attorney Gerry Lefcourt in the biopic “Steal This Movie” (also 2000), adapted from Abbie and Anita Hoffman's book called “To America with Love: Letters from the Underground.” The versatile actor then made a cameo appearance as Matthew McConaughey's golfing buddy in the Jennifer Lopez and McConaughey vehicle “The Wedding Planner” (2001), supported Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner in “3,000 Miles to Graceland” (2001), provided the voice of an alligator in the Eddie Murphy remake “Dr. Doolittle 2” (2001), reunited with Aidan Quinn for the drama “Stolen Summer” (2002, as Rabbi Jacobsen) and costarred with Miguel A. Núñez Jr. and Vivica A. Fox in “Juwanna Man” (2002). He also portrayed Cupid in Tim Allen's “The Santa Claus 2” (2002) and appeared as Archimedes in the family holiday film “Blizzard” (2003) before returning to the “The Whole Nine Years” sequel “The Whole Ten Yards” (2004), this time playing his character's ancient father Lazlo Gogolak.
In 2005, the accomplished performer reunited with frequent costar Bruce Willis for the action/thriller “Hostage.” He went on to act in the TV film “Capitol Law” (2006), the miniseries “The Halifax Comedy Festival” (2006), the Canadian drama “Niagara Motel” (2006, opposite Craig Ferguson) and the Sci Fi Channel miniseries “The Lost Room” (2006, as Karl Kreutzfeld). He also reprised his role of Cupid for “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” (2006). After appearing as David Rudolf in the made-for-TV film “The Staircase Murders” (2007), he was featured alongside Matthew Perry and Barry W. Levy in the comedy film “Numb” (2007). From September to November 2007, he played the recurring role of D.A. Leo Cutler in the legal drama “Shark” (CBS).
As for his upcoming projects, Pollak has three films in post production. They are the thriller “Otis” (2008), the comedy “Picture This” (2008) and the horror/thriller “Two: Thirteen” (2008). He is also set to star with Andrew Seeley, Cathy Lee Crosby, Gary Graham, Lisa London and Jim Fitzpatrick in the dramatic romance “Soulmates” (2008), directed and written by Fitzpatrick.
National Board of Review: Best Acting by an Ensemble, “The Usual Suspects,” 1995