Don't expect Greg Kinnear to serve as honorary guest host of Talk Soup anytime soon. The Oscar-nominated actor who piloted the E! clipfest for four years before succeeding Bob Costas on NBC's Later admits that his talking-head days are over.
"I had seen my last episode of Jerry Springer that I cared to see," admits Kinnear, who stars as an arrogant soap star being stalked by Renée Zellweger in the dark comedy Nurse Betty, opening Friday.
But Kinnear isn't about to knock the very gig that launched his career; he knows full well that in La-la land, you do whatever it takes to get noticed even if that means talking to a hand puppet named Señor Sock. "It's a miracle if you can get a job in this town," he says. "[So you] do whatever you can scratch, bite, claw, steal... that's what I did."
Not that Hollywood needs any reminders. As Kinnear points out, it took a breakthrough performance in As Good as It Gets and his subsequent Oscar nomination for studio execs to get past his, er, past. "I think maybe [the Oscar nod] helped lose some of that cable television stamp that was on me a little bit," he concedes. "I think some people are still very aware of my background. But there's not too much you can do about that."
Kinnear's meager beginnings on the boob tube did help him relate to Zellweger's TV-obsessed Betty character. "[With] Talk Soup, there was such an intense, personal relationship [with viewers] because you're looking right at the camera," he admits. "I can see how the [David] Letterman situation happened, because you're right in their living rooms or homes and you're having a very personal relationship with a person that you're talking to but not really talking to. And for somebody that's maybe a little on the edge to begin with to maybe drop off is somewhat understandable.
"But I've been just unsuccessful enough to not have any obsessive fans," he adds with a laugh. "I've had a pretty carefree run, thankfully."