Academy Award winner Kevin Kline to receive honorary degree from IU; film series planned

  • Aug. 14, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Kline will receive an honorary doctoral degree during his return to the Indiana University campus this fall. As part of his Sept. 15 visit, he is scheduled to speak at IU Auditorium and attend a special screening of "A Fish Called Wanda" at IU Cinema.

"Kevin Kline is one of the most accomplished, esteemed and versatile stage and screen actors living today, and his success reflects both his exceptional talent and his excellent training, which began, we are extremely proud to say, at Indiana University," IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. "Few contemporary performers can match his impressive body of work, artistic integrity and ability to portray such a vast range of characters. Through conferral of this degree, we acknowledge and recognize his major contributions to the craft of acting and, in a broader sense, his advancement of American culture."

Kline's degree ceremony will take place at the start of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture, set for 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at IU Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets will be available beginning Aug. 26 at the IU Auditorium box office, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is a limit of four per person.

The format of the lecture will be an interview conducted by Jonathan Michaelsen, chair of the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance. Also on stage will be Robby Benson, professor of practice in IU’s new Media School, and Karla DeVito, both of whom appeared on Broadway with Kline in "The Pirates of Penzance."

"Kevin Kline is without doubt one of the finest stage and film actors of our age -- and a graduate of this department," Michaelsen said. "We are thrilled to welcome this living legend back to IU. It is especially gratifying that Kline has agreed to teach a master class for our theater students while he is here, providing them with an incomparable experience."

Kline earned his bachelor’s degree at IU in 1970 and continued his studies in drama at Juilliard in New York.

He has seamlessly transitioned between the worlds of theater and film and has earned equal distinction in both.

On the stage, Kline won his first Tony and Drama Desk awards in 1978 for "On the Twentieth Century" and followed up with another pair of the awards in 1981 for "The Pirates of Penzance." In 2008, Kline earned the Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance as "Cyrano de Bergerac." Over three decades with The Public Theater, Kline has played numerous Shakespearean characters, including "Hamlet," "Richard III," "Henry V" and "King Lear" in addition to his run at The Lincoln Center Theater as "Sir John Falstaff."

On the silver screen, Kline received an Academy Award in 1988 for his role in the comedy "A Fish Called Wanda" and won a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2008 for the HBO production of "As You Like It." He also earned five nominations for Golden Globes and received a Career Tribute at the 1997 Gotham Independent Film Awards.

"The IU Cinema is honored to have another acting legend in our program," director Jon Vickers said. "With Meryl Streep in April, Kevin Kline in September and all of our other wonderful guests, I'm not sure how we top 2014."

In honor of Kline, IU Cinema will present a mix of his dramas and comedies:

  • 7 p.m. Sept. 2, "The Big Chill" -- In this classic comedy/drama, idealistic college friends reconnect and reminisce on the occasion of their friend's funeral.
  • 3 p.m. Sept. 14, "Silverado" -- Four unwitting heroes cross paths on their way to a sleepy western town overtaken by a corrupt sheriff and a murderous posse.
  • 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14, "My Old Lady" -- A down-on-his-luck New Yorker inherits the Paris apartment of his estranged father, only to find that it comes furnished with a feisty tenant and a tangled web of secrets.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 15, "A Fish Called Wanda" -- Kline won an Academy Award for his part in this beloved black comedy about the bumbling capers of diamond thieves.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 16, "The Ice Storm" -- When a man's relationships with his wife and mistress grow cold, a freak storm and a wife-swapping party clear the air.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 23, "The Extra Man" -- A brilliant but eccentric landlord schools his young tenant on how to be an "extra man" -- an escort to wealthy widows.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 30, "Dave" -- In this masquerade comedy, an ordinary guy stands in for his look-alike, who happens to be the president of the United States.

Kline is expected to attend the screening of "A Fish Called Wanda." A question-and-answer session hosted by Jon Vickers will follow.

For all films in this series, tickets are $3 each and go on sale Aug. 26. There is a limit of two per person for the screening with Kline in attendance. All tickets can be obtained at the IU Auditorium box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; one hour before any screening at the cinema; or by phone at 812-855-1103 for a $10 service fee per order.

When they were Pirates …

Robby Benson shared some personal thoughts on his old friend:

"Indiana University graduate Kevin Kline -- the most gifted, brilliant actor I had ever seen -- changed my life forever in less than two hours, performing in Joseph Papp's Broadway production of 'The Pirates of Penzance,'" he said. "I was Frederick to his Pirate King, and the Mable who led me around the stage making sure I hit my marks was Karla DeVito. I guess one could say, 'Because of IU's theater department, Karla and I have been in love for 33 years.'"

Speaking about Kline, Benson said, "Two Tonys, an Academy Award, and now 'The American Olivier' is coming back to IU as an inspiration to students, faculty and community -- one and all."

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Media Contacts

Ryan Piurek

  • Office 812-855-5393
  • Cell 812-340-1018
  • Btown Banter

Jon Vickers

  • IU Cinema
  • Office 812-855-7632