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Greg Kinnear a likable mess in new role

Kinnear at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Kevork Djansezian/REUTERS

Kinnear at the Television Critics Association press tour.

PASADENA, Calif. — For his last role on TV, playing President John F. Kennedy, Greg Kinnear was nominated for an Emmy. He returns Thursday at 9 p.m. on Fox in a decidedly less presidential manner as the narcissistic, self-destructive mess of a lawyer Keegan Deane in the new Fox series “Rake”

The actor spoke with reporters at the recent Television Critics Association press tour here about what drew him to the role.

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Q. If you needed crucial legal assistance, is Keegan the guy you’d want representing you?

A. I don’t know that I’d necessarily want him to represent me. But I don’t mean that as an indictment on the guy because . . . without it being kitschy and without him being a lawyer with a heart of gold, there’s a lot of episodes where he learns nothing, and he makes sizable mistakes as we go forward and recognizes those. But I think, at the end of the day, that he is, for the most part, brilliant at that aspect of his life, in spite of all the other self-destructive mechanisms in his life.

Q. How much denial do you think the character is in about why bad things happen to him?

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A. I don’t think he has a great self awareness of that. It comes in fits and starts. There have been moments over the series where they’ve surprised me, and there are moments where he has a little bit of reflection about where he’s at on the map, but certainly out of the gate, very little, and that’s probably true of most people.

Q. Do you see yourself at all as this character?

A. I don’t know. I suppose there’s probably people whose DNA might fit into the suit a little better, but it’s kind of irrelevant to the job as an actor. I was intrigued immediately when I saw the show as to the mess of that guy, and that kind of absolute lack of need for approval is a hugely attractive thing, especially if you’re an actor. Getting to play a guy who’s not necessarily interested in what you think was a really cool element for me.

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at
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