A good time to flex his mus­cles

Char­ac­ter ac­tor Kevin Cor­ri­gan takes a rare lead role in a new rom-com, ‘Re­sults.’

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - By Mark Olsen mark.olsen@la­times.com Twit­ter: @IndieFo­cus

With his idio­syn­cratic screen pres­ence, at once sham­bolic and fo­cused, long­time char­ac­ter ac­tor Kevin Cor­ri­gan makes an im­pres­sion no mat­ter the size of his role.

In the busi­ness for more than 25 years — a key early role was a small part in “Good­Fel­las” — Cor­ri­gan has ap­peared in stu­dio movies, se­ries tele­vi­sion and count­less in­de­pen­dent films, in­clud­ing “Walk­ing and Talk­ing,” “Slums of Bev­erly Hills,” “Grounded for Life” and “Su­per­bad.” It is no­table that in one of his most high-pro­file roles, in scenes op­po­site Leonardo DiCaprio in “The De­parted,” he played the lead char­ac­ter’s cousin as if some­one you might kind of rec­og­nize or maybe might know.

Now in “Re­sults,” cur­rently play­ing in Los An­ge­les and avail­able on video-on­de­mand, Cor­ri­gan takes a rare lead­ing role op­po­site Aus­tralian ac­tor Guy Pearce and “How I Met Your Mother” and “Avengers” star Co­bie Smul­ders. The film, writ­ten and di­rected by the like­wise icon­o­clas­tic An­drew Bu­jal­ski, takes its time in re­veal­ing it­self to be an un­con­ven­tional rom-com with fi­nances and fit­ness on its mind along­side ro­mance.

Though Cor­ri­gan has had lead roles be­fore — “they just haven’t es­caped the fes­ti­val cir­cuit,” he joked — he doesn’t pay much at­ten­tion to the size of a part. Rather, he sees ev­ery role as a chance to do some­thing new.

“I still dig it, I’m still be­ing al­lowed to do it, I still have my pas­sions,” Cor­ri­gan said dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view in Los An­ge­les. “I’ve never been that specif­i­cally goal ori­ented. I get asked some­times — and I’m lucky to be asked any­thing. Who wants to hear what I have to say? — but what part would you like to play that you haven’t played, and I never have an an­swer. I very rarely say no.”

In Bu­jal­ski’s film, Cor­ri­gan plays Danny, a New Yorker trans­planted to Austin, Texas, who is re­cently di­vorced and the more re­cent re­cip­i­ent of a large, un­ex­pected in­her­i­tance. He has en­sconced him­self in a cookie-cut­ter man­sion with no idea of how to fur­nish it or be a rich per­son.

Wan­der­ing into a gym one day — he says he wants to learn how to take a punch — Danny soon finds him­self in­volved in the lives of a per­sonal trainer, Kat (Smul­ders), and her boss, Trevor (Pearce). Things ac­cel­er­ate when Danny in­vests in Trevor’s plans to ex­pand the gym, as the three find them­selves en­tan­gled in a se­ries of ro­man­tic and fi­nan­cial com­pli­ca­tions.

Cor­ri­gan’s ad­di­tional screen time in “Re­sults,” and what he was able to do with it, has not gone un­no­ticed. In the New York Times, A.O. Scott de­clared that “Mr. Cor­ri­gan is some­thing of a comic ge­nius, wield­ing his flabby frame and doughy face with re­mark­able grace and pre­ci­sion.” Writ­ing about the film fol­low­ing its pre­miere at Sun­dance ear­lier this year, Grant­land writer Wes­ley Mor­ris said Cor­ri­gan “has never been stronger. With his thin­ning hair, Bronx ac­cent, and creepy air, he typ­i­cally plays losers. This is one of the very few that cul­mi­nates in a win.”

Bu­jal­ski’s pre­vi­ous films in­clude “Com­puter Chess” and “Beeswax,” like­wise movies of mod­est means but the­matic and for­mal am­bi­tions, and he wrote the role of Danny with Cor­ri­gan in mind. Bu­jal­ski knew Cor­ri­gan’s dis­tinc­tive screen pres­ence would give the char­ac­ter just the enig­matic spin it needed, as Danny’s mo­tives of­ten re­main hard to read.

“I’ve been a fan of his since at least ‘Walk­ing and Talk­ing,’” re­called Bu­jal­ski, ref­er­enc­ing Cor­ri­gan’s role as a lovelorn video store clerk in the 1996 fea­ture de­but from writer-direc­tor Ni­cole Holofcener. “I re­mem­ber sit­ting in the theater watch­ing that movie and wait­ing for the cred­its to roll, think­ing I’ve got to find out who that guy was.”

Cor­ri­gan, 46, is a na­tive New Yorker who has been act­ing since his teens. He lives there with his wife, actress El­iz­a­beth Ber­ridge, and their daugh­ter. (Ber­ridge plays his char­ac­ter’s ex-wife in “Re­sults.”) Bu­jal­ski and Cor­ri­gan first met in per­son when they were both cast to ap­pear in Austin­based film­maker Bob Byington’s 2008 com­edy, “R.S.O. (Reg­is­tered Sex Of­fender),” and the two had kept in touch since then. Cor­ri­gan also ap­peared in Byington’s sub­se­quent films “Har­mony and Me” and “Some­body Up There Likes Me.”

“Kevin just has this way of talk­ing you haven’t quite seen be­fore. He re­ally is a one-of-a-kind ac­tor,” Byington said. “It’s not ‘lis­ten to how funny I’m go­ing to make this line’; that’s not where he’s com­ing from. There’s some­thing else, very sub­con­scious, go­ing on.”

But it wasn’t just Cor­ri­gan that Bu­jal­ski was writ­ing for, as he was also try­ing to write a char­ac­ter for Guy Pearce, the Aus­tralian ac­tor known for “L.A Con­fi­den­tial,” “Me­mento” and “The Hurt Locker.”

“As dif­fer­ent as he and Guy are, one of the things they have in com­mon is that both are very in­ter­nal ac­tors, they’re very in­scrutable,” Bu­jal­ski said. “You never quite know what each of them are think­ing, and so they’re the kind of ac­tors I al­ways lean for­ward in my seat to watch. And I think that’s what led me down a path of try­ing to write a movie that would ab­sorb both of their en­er­gies.”

What he landed on is an un­usual struc­ture in which the film re­veals it­self to be a rom-com al­most like a magic trick, hand­ing off its fo­cus from Cor­ri­gan’s Danny to Pearce’s Trevor some­where along the way, with Smul­ders’ hot­headed Kat bar­rel­ing be­tween them.

“And that’s been tricky for some peo­ple,” Bu­jal­ski said. “That’s the big­gest vi­o­la­tion of Hol­ly­wood rom­com screen­writ­ing 101. In a ro­man­tic com­edy movie, you’ve got to know who the pro­tag­o­nist is, and I vi­o­late that rule.”

Or as Smul­ders put it in an in­ter­view at Sun­dance, “It was a ro­man­tic com­edy like I’d never seen.”

Fol­low­ing this rare lead role in “Re­sults,” Cor­ri­gan re­mains busy. He has a role in the up­com­ing Ter­rence Mal­ick film, “Knight of Cups,” and an­other film in which he ap­pears, “Mead­ow­land,” di­rected by Reed Mo­rano and star­ring Olivia Wilde, re­cently pre­miered at the Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val. He has a part as a bookie in the TNT pe­riod cop drama “Public Morals,” cre­ated by Ed­ward Burns, pre­mier­ing later this sum­mer.

He also has been oc­ca­sion­ally host­ing a live-event talk show in New York, “The Cor­ri­gan Show,” with guests that have in­cluded mu­si­cians David Jo­hansen and Kim Gor­don, actress Natasha Ly­onne and “Broad City’s” Abbi Ja­cob­son and Ilana Glazer.

As for his no­to­ri­ously ec­cen­tric line read­ings, Cor­ri­gan might also have been speak­ing of his en­tire ca­reer when he noted, “It’s all a roll of the dice. I don’t do the same thing twice.”

Francine Orr Los An­ge­les Times

KEVIN COR­RI­GAN plays a New York trans­plant who in­vests in a Texas gym.

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