“This is the most ridiculous example of the necessity being the mother of invention,” said Kevin Pollak in a phone interview.
Columbus Circle, which he co-wrote with the movie’s director, George Gallo, came about when producer Christopher Mallick’s financing for a remake of a Korean movie fell apart when the Korean government took back the movie rights in 2009, Pollak said.
This bad news came to Mallick as he was at the Cannes Film Festival celebrating the movie, Middle Men, with its cast that included Giovanni Ribisi, who is also in Columbus Circle, and Pollak.
Since Mallick already had two apartment sets built in Los Angeles for his now defunct remake, Pollack told him he would come up with an idea that night and they would go over it on the 11-hour trip home the next day to figure it out.
He was up most of the night coming up with the story for Columbus Circle, which concerns an heiress portrayed by Selma Bair, who is holed up in her apartment and no one knows who she is, and the couple who move into the apartment across the hall from her.
Pollak pitched Mallick, Ribisi, and the movie’s composer, Brian Tyler, the story the next day on the plane and they thought it was “great,” he said. They knew that the sets were built in a rented space and were only
available for a limited time before they would be torn down for the next person to rent the space.
“We landed and 19 days later started shooting,” Pollak said. “I would imagine that’s a land speed record of some sort.”
He loved working on the film’s two sets.
“As a writer…the restraint of shooting on two sets like that actually creates a sense of liberation and freedom ironically because your brain has to focus creatively on these two spaces and what kinds of stories
spring from those two spaces.”
Pollak said he wasn’t influenced by any films or stories while writing the movie. He never used any facts or historical information in his story, either.
“There was no time for research,” Pollak said. “There was no time for anything. I literally fabricated the story based on I got two sets…”
Pollak knew as he was writing the movie that he wanted to be in it. He said he thought about playing the detective character portrayed by Ribisi, but eventually decided on the character of Klandermann, the apartment building’s concierge.
Pollak’s character’s personality, quirks, and disposition were decided before filming began by Gallo and himself. The way his character speaks came about when he did his first take. His character “doesn’t speak with a stammer, but he rarely finishes a sentence,” he said.
“It just happened,” Pollak said. “I had an idea of him being a certain way. It ended up being the most fun character and ‘funny-to-me’ character that I have ever met.”
He would love to work with directors Jason Reitman, Alexander Payne, and Wes Anderson. He anticipates working with Reitman in the future since they are friends.
“I think [Reitman] is an exceptional filmmaker,” Pollak said. “He knows I feel that way.”
He feels lucky with the directors he has worked with and doesn’t want to be greedy by having a “big overview plan” of who he wants to work with.
“I have been a little lucky for the directors I have worked with from (Martin) Scorsese to (Rob) Reiner, Ron Howard, Barry Levinson, [and] Bryan Singer,” Pollak said.
Besides stand-up and acting, Pollak hosts his own internet talk show, Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, which will be celebrating its three year anniversary in a few weeks.
“I started out as a stand-up comedian,” Pollak said. “I had no creative control and ownership in any other form of my career like I did as a stand-up comedian until the internet.”
He has always been “a huge reader of autobiographies” and has “been fascinated with journeys.” He likes finding out how a person gets to where they are. In his different professions, he has been on close to 80 talk shows over the years and those appearances are only about six minutes long except for the Charlie Rose show, where a person can received 30 minutes, he said.
The “long form one-on-one conversation just doesn’t exist,” Pollak said.
“I’m averaging about two hours with my guests. It’s a way to really find out what makes these people tick and what their journeys were like.”
Pollak loves the internet and is “using it in a huge way.” He recently launched a comedy podcast, Talkin Walkin. He talks as Christopher Walken with his guests throughout the entire hour. He used “in” in “Walkin” so as not to get sued by Christopher Walken’s family.
Within six days of the podcast’s launch in Apples’s iTunes, it cracked the top ten comedy podcasts.
Columbus Circle is available on DVD and Blu-ray and his Chat Show streams live every Sunday at 3 p.m. (PST) at http://kevinpollakschatshow.com/.