Greg Kinnear is so goshdarned handsome that it’s easy to think of him as just another pretty face.
It’s also easy to picture him as a slick insurance agent in small-town Wisconsin, a part he played in the 2001 movie Thin Ice. The fact that his character, Mickey Prohaska, sold more policies than there are citizens in the chilly burg is only one of the plot holes. Desperate for money, Mickey gets caught up in a bit of criminal play that eventually involves murder and blackmail. The plot is as hard to decipher as the fine print on a travel insurance policy during a pandemic.
It’s a familiar role for Kinnear, who gets to use his skill of teetering on the wire between magnetism and muck. Surprisingly, he was long terrified of trying.
Growing up as the son of a traveling diplomat, Kinnear discovered theater during high school in Athens, Greece, and even started an acting major at the University of Arizona. When panic ensued—the acting life was edgy for a foreign service brat—he switched to broadcast journalism and began his professional life as a television host, notably of “Talk Soup” and then “Later with Greg Kinnear.” Sniffing talent, the director Sydney Pollack cast him as the sleazeball womanizer in the 1995 remake of Sabrina. For 1997’s As Good As It Gets, he snagged an Oscar nomination for his role as a gay, disabled artist. Playing a dorky journalist in You’ve Got Mail, he showed us yet another face.
Kinnear has also played Bob Hope, Bob Crane, John F. Kennedy, and even Joe Biden, plus a few real-life military heroes. At 59, he’s still working, still goshdarned good looking, and definitely not just a pretty face.