You know Richard Kind’s face from numerous TV shows and films—and you certainly know his voice from iconic animated movies such as Toy Story 3 and Inside Out.
Kind is also a talented stage actor—and he’s starring in the one-man show A Man and His Prostate, coming to the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum from Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25.
During a recent phone interview, Kind said that he almost didn’t go into show business.
“I was thinking of going to law school,” Kind said. “I was supposed to go into my dad’s business. … He owned a retail jewelry store. I would have been happy and done well, because I liked my dad’s store, and I happen to think I might have been a good salesman—but if you make a living doing what I do, you’re the luckiest guy in the world. Yet I would talk anyone out of going into show business.”
Wait, what? Why would Kind talk anyone out of going into show business?
“A few reasons: The first thing is anytime you get a job, you ask yourself, ‘Is this my last job? Will I ever work again?’” he said. “The second thing is something I came upon this when I was doing Inside Out: An actor’s job is to try to get into the character as deeply as he can. When you work in TV or movies, you only get that day to do what’s going to live a lifetime. The ride home, you think, ‘Gosh! Why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I try that?’ It is so upsetting sometimes, because you can’t do it again. Sometimes you keep that to yourself for the rest of your life. I’m not kidding.
“The third thing is when you’re an actor, you always want to be the character that you’re playing, and you never can be. It’s a very upsetting thing. … I’ll always be Richard Kind, and I’ll never be Hamlet. Only Hamlet was born Hamlet. I can come close to it. Daniel Day-Lewis comes very close to it and is called by (his character’s) name, but he’s not that person and is only creating that person. You can’t become that person, and it’s a very frustrating thing.”
He talked about a moment while voicing the character of Bing Bong in Inside Out: The character gave his life, more or less, to save another character.
“It was such a pure moment, and I felt the emotion so much that I wanted to it again and again,” he said. “It was very pleasing to me, because I really got into that benevolent and beautiful place of giving up your soul and giving up your life for somebody else. It was so pure that when I was doing it, I was asking to do it over again and again. I wanted to be Bing Bong at that moment, and finally, the director said, ‘No, you’ve done it 20 times! Enough already!’ It can be close to pure, but it’s never pure.”
So there is some truth in that saying: “Pain is temporary; film is forever?”
“Yes! That’s really true!” Kind replied. “In theater, you get to ride home and think, ‘Oh, what if I try this?’ or certainly during rehearsal, you get a chance to try it over and over and over. That’s why theater can be more fulfilling than doing movies, at least artistically.”
Over his three-decade-plus career, Kind has seemingly done everything.
“I’ve done radio. I’ve done opera. I’ve done the Broadway stage; I’ve done the Hollywood Bowl, and I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “Part of it is I never say ‘no’ to work. I always work, and I wish I had said ‘no’ a little more often. On the flip side … wow! Look what I got to keep doing.”
Kind saidA Man and His Prostate, penned by renowned comedy writer Ed. Weinberger, is a lot of fun.
“It’s only me, so I love that. My ego adores that it’s only me onstage,” Kind said. “Ed. Weinberger helped make me who I am without him even knowing it. This was a guy who wrote forThe Mary Tyler Moore Show; he wrote Taxi; he co-created the The Cosby Show, and these are the things that formulated who Richard Kind is and the type of entertainment I like, how I think about things, how I think about actors—and it’s all I’ve wanted to do. (The play) is all Ed. Weinberger. Meeting him and getting the chance to work with him was thrilling to me. The script is funny; it’s certainly realistic, and it tells you a little bit about what’s going to happen as you get older. But first and foremost, it’s entertaining, and it’s fun. It’s about a guy who wrote the greatest comedies in the world telling a story about something that could have been very tragic, and it happened to be very comical.”
Kind said the play offers many lessons on the subject of prostate cancer.
“This is what could happen if you do have an incident with your prostate, and he was very lucky that he caught it early,” Kind said. “It’s very good. … For years, we gotten lectured about how smoking is bad for your health, and people have stopped smoking. For years, we heard drinking and driving is very bad and can take people’s lives, and people stopped drinking and driving. Men should know about the dangers of the prostate and what kind of pain it can cause.”
Kind has recently addressed the #MeToo movement, especially the scandals regarding many of the male actors in Hollywood. Kind has joked that he may be the last actor standing who is not accused of inappropriate conduct—and he said he thinks the movement has been a net positive.
“It is not sad at all, because some of these people are getting their due, and it’s not enough, considering what they’ve done,” Kind said. “I’m not just talking about the Harvey Weinsteins; this goes back to Louis B. Mayer and has been going on for years. This is part in parcel of what Hollywood is, so it is about time. You see a good morality in their art, and see this horrific morality in their personal life. How hypocritical—because they do know right from wrong.
“I try to tell my children in this age of our president, ‘You must be held accountable for your actions.’ On the flip side, I feel bad, because I think Kevin Spacey’s work is spectacular, and now I can’t separate the man and his actions from his work. Harvey Weinstein (produced) some of the best movies we’ve seen in the past 20 years, and we’re not going to get his imprint and his taste on films anymore. We will all suffer because of their horrific actions—yet I’ll live with not being entertained by them.”
A Man and His Prostate will be performed at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday Feb. 24; and 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $55 to $65. For tickets or more information, call 760-325-4490, or visit www.psmuseum.org/annenberg-theater.