'Auggie' is Richard Kind's rare leading man role

By Karen Butler
Actor Richard Kind stars in the sci-fi dramedy, "Auggie," in theaters Friday. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films
1 of 3 | Actor Richard Kind stars in the sci-fi dramedy, "Auggie," in theaters Friday. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Mad About You, Spin City and Brockmire actor Richard Kind has spent decades stealing scenes as a supporting player, but the sci-fi dramedy Auggie gave him the rare chance to play a leading man on screen.

"I don't get to work on many things where I have an arc for the entire production. Usually, on a play that will happen, but on TV or movies, I'm not the main character," the 62-year-old New Jersey native told UPI in a recent phone interview.


"Something like this, it's on my shoulders," Kind said. "I start at one place. I end up in another, and that was very good. I approached the challenge and liked it. It's difficult."

Written and directed by Matt Kane, the film follows Felix, a lonely man who falls in love with the augmented reality companion he is given by his company as an early retirement gift.


Felix spends time with Auggie doing all the things he wants to do -- watching movies, sitting on the beach, planning for the future -- but he hides the smart glasses that bring her to life from the busy wife and daughter, who genuinely care about him.

His obsession with his cyber friend -- a beautiful, young woman who never challenges or contradicts him -- ends up isolating him from real people.

The low-budget movie co-stars Larisa Oleynik, Susan Blackwell and Christen Harper, and will be in theaters and available via video-on-demand platforms Friday.

"Nobody was in it for the money. We were all in it to make a good movie," he said, noting how happy he was when Samuel Goldwyn Films agreed to distribute it.

Asking big questions

The film asks big questions about humanity, technology and reality, but doesn't offer easy answers.

"That's what adult movies are for. We don't want to spoon-feed you," Kind said, adding the film is intended to explore "the devastating effects of machines on our lives."

The actor likened Auggie to thematically similar films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Her, as well as his own past project, the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man, a drama that also pushed audiences to ponder questions about existence and morality.


"This is the same kind of movie," Kind said.

Returning for more

Kind has returned to his recurring role of Dr. Mark Devanow in the Spectrum Originals' revival of Mad About You, the 1990s sitcom in which he appeared with Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser.

The show is set to return with six new episodes Nov. 20.

"Paul and Helen are still as sharp and as funny as ever," Kind said.

"I can't say I was reluctant, but I wasn't as thrilled about going back," he said, recalling how he wondered: "Is this really what we want to be doing? Is it going to go the way of Murphy Brown?"

"But the script is so good. I love it and I am so proud to be doing it," he said.

Kind's other credits include Red Oaks, Gotham, Big Mouth, Argo, Psych, Scrubs, A Bug's Life, the Cars franchise and Toy Story 3.

He said he still gets a thrill when he works with people he admires on projects that require him to try something new.

"If the people I'm working with are great, then I know that I'm involved in quality, which is what's going on with Mad About You," he said.


"If it's different, I get excited. If it's the same old thing or I am doing it for money, maybe not so much. Usually, the less the money, the better the vehicle is, which is sad to say. Like this, Auggie was very inexpensive and I really had a great time doing it and it's very special to me."

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