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Ken Davitian Interview - Get Smart
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Rebecca Murray from About.com Hollywood Movies at the World Premiere of Get Smart.
Ken Davitian ('Shtarker')

So tackling the role of a bad guy in a Get Smart movie, what do you do? How do you approach that?

Ken Davitian: "You follow Terence Stamp. You do whatever he tells you to do because you work for him. But the only thing that has to be done all the time is causing chaos. It's like you're a three year old. You're just causing chaos."

When you get that script and you see this character on the page, how does that transfer in your head to what comes out on screen?

Ken Davitian: "Well, I knew the character because I had seen the series. And I really wanted to be in the movie so they called and said, 'Listen, we've got a part for you.' And I was going to play Burly Man and I said, 'Hey listen, I want to meet with these people. I want to play Shtarker.' And I went in, I read for it, I went to a table read, and I got the job."

I read somewhere that you actually went into the audition using an accent and they didn't know you spoke English. Is that true?

Ken Davitian: "Yes. At both auditions for Get Smart and Borat I did that."

Why would you do that for Get Smart?

Ken Davitian: "I just wanted to hit it out of the park."

And obviously you did.

Ken Davitian: "See, I'm here so it worked. Because they didn't know… Peter Segal the director was told, 'No, Ken speaks English.' So [speaking with an accent] Ken go in there and he talking like this and Peter thinking, 'What are we going to do with this guy?' So it worked."

And you weren't afraid that that would cost you the role?

Ken Davitian: "No, because I could break, you know? That was the whole thing. When I saw in his eyes that he was thinking, 'Oh what am I… The guy's perfect for the part but how do I tell him where to go, how to stand, what to do? Do I need to get a handler for him?' And then I broke character and I said, 'Listen man, I'm born in America, in Los Angeles. I want this job.' And so it was great."

So you were a fan of the series. How does this movie capture the tone of the series and bring it to the 2008 audience?

Ken Davitian: "It sprinkles some nostalgia. It doesn't impersonate or copy the series. It's much more of a comedy action film than the series was. And it's just full of action. I keep telling people, 'While you're cracking up, things are blowing up.' So it's really done well. I mean, I really surprised by how well it's done and put together where laugh, blow up, shoot, laugh, laugh, blow up, shoot… It's perfect, and you don't have to have seen the series at all. You can be eight years old and watch this and say, 'Wow, that's a great movie.' But if you're 40 and you watch it, you'll feel some of that nostalgia because you know they've got a lot of things in there, little things that are in there like the sayings that he does and the little gadgets that he has, and the shoe phone. So it really pays a compliment to the series and to Mel Brooks."

What's up next for you?

Ken Davitian: "I just finished a movie called Soul Men with Bernie Mac and Samuel L Jackson."

That ought to be fun.

Ken Davitian: "Yes, it's hilarious."
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