Exclusive Interview: 2 BROKE GIRLS’ Jonathan Kite Talks Playing Oleg, Doing Vince Vaughn Impressions & More

Jonathan Kite

This week, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of new shows premiering. As you are trying to make sense of which show to watch, make sure to check out, 2 BROKE GIRLS, a comedy about two young waitresses, played by Kat Dennings & Beth Behrs, working at a neighborhood diner and trying to launch their own business. Jonathan Kite plays Oleg the resident russian cook at said diner who also fancies himself as a ladies man.

Daemon’s TV had a chance to have a talk with the very energetic Jonathan Kite about the show, his character and his knack for doing dead on Vince Vaughn Impressions. Read more below and don’t forget to watch 2 Broke Girls which will premiere at a special time tonight Monday, Sept. 19, 9:30-10:00 PM, ET/PT and will regularly air 8:30-9:00PM,ET/PT beginning Monday, Sept. 26 on the CBS Television Network.

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I saw the first episode of ‘2 Broke Girls’ and it’s hilarious. And you guys are now slated to air right after ‘Two and A Half Men’, right?

Jonathan Kite: Yeah, the premiere for them with Ashton [Kutcher] is going to be the lead in for us and for the regular duration of the series in the immediate future we’re going to be their lead in. It’ll be ‘How I Met Your Mother‘, us and then ‘Two and a Half Men‘.

That’s exciting. Lets talk about your character. Oleg.

Jonathan Kite: I play Oleg, the Russian import. He was born in Russia and he works as a cook at the diner, at the Williamsburg Diner where a majority of the sitcom takes place. There’s a ton of other locations, but like our base camp, the way that in ‘Cheers’ it was always a bar or the way that ‘Taxi’ was always the cabstand we have this, the Williamsburg Diner. I play the chef there.

Can you talk about the casting process?

Jonathan Kite: It was really weird. I knew the casting director really well. We’d worked together on some other stuff. My manager got me an audition with her for this other project that was, like, a Quentin Tarantino like director. While I was there I was wearing some cologne and she remarked on – I don’t even know. Maybe it was just deodorant because the truth is that I’m looking back and I don’t even wear cologne. So, maybe it was just some incredibly powerful Speedstick.

What happened was that I kind of got in there and whenever I go in there we always hangout and joke. I kind of remarked, like, ‘This place smells like a bathhouse urinal right now.’ She said, ‘Yeah, we’re auditioning all these men who are coming in,’ because the part was originally written for a forty five year old bald Russian guy. She goes, ‘We’re auditioning a lot of these guys and a lot of them don’t have deodorant.’ We were joking around about that, having a little fun and she goes, ‘Can you do a Russian accent because I’d like you to meet Michael Patrick King,’ who’s the producer and Whitney Cummings, the other executive.

I said yeah and I did my Russian. She said, ‘You’ll never get this part, but it would just be fun for them to meet you so somewhere down the line in the series you can come in and do something.’ I thought, ‘Great.’ I went home and I thought, ‘I’m never going to book this,’ but the sides were incredible. There were three sides and I really enjoyed them. I thought that I could do something with it, but clearly I was too young. So, I went to Goodwill and I bought these spandex, Lycra, cotton blend pants. I hiked them up really high and they were tiger print brown and black striped and they had glitter on the right side.

They have some amazing stuff at Goodwill.

Jonathan Kite: Brother, I’m telling you, it’s so funny. I tried on so many different pairs of work pants and these were just there like a gift from God. Truly, they were like women’s pants, but they fit me great. So, I hemmed them up with safety pins and I wore these really dirty sweat socks and I wore these brown old flip-flops and I took an undershirt and I stained it with mustard. I came in with a hairnet. I went in there and shook everyone’s hand. It was really a thrill for me because I’ve been a big fan of both Michael and Whitney for a long time.

I shook everyone’s hand, the casting director and all the assistants who were really nice and at the end I got to Whitney and I leaned and I, I think very honestly, said, ‘This is an honor to meet you. Thank you so much for seeing me,’ because I knew they were probably doing Julie [Ashton] a favor in a way just because I was so wrong for it. Then I pulled back and realized that I’d just shaken everyone else’s hand, but I’d only said that to Whitney, and I said, ‘That’s because I haven’t heard of the rest of you. IMDB me. Lets start this audition.

Michael cracked up and Whitney cracked up. It was fun. It was one of those things where I think we all had a nice moment with each other. They were aware of it and I just said that and it was great. So, after that I just kept going. I thought, ‘Man, I’m never going to book this, but they liked me and I like them.’ They just kept calling me back and then all of a sudden it came down to me and a guy who was twenty years older than me who was like a bulldog of a dude. He was probably five or six inches shooter and looked like a rugby player.

He was a British guy who I think had played Russian on television for like three years. We got to be really good friends in the audition because we kept going through, and I thought, ‘Well, it’s not about me or him. It’s about what they’re looking for,’ because everyone else that was testing, it was like Noah’s Ark, like two of each kind. So, they look very much like the other one and it could’ve gone either way. For me and him we just became really friendly with each other, and then I found out I got it.

2 BROKE GIRLS

Can you talk about working with Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs?

Jonathan Kite: I mean, obviously Kat Dennings is amazing and has worked forever and will continue to work forever, but Beth, like, she has very few credits to her name, but they are incredible. Really, they’re very different in how they approach things, I think, it seems to me. But they both get the job done, and I mean, more than done. I think people are really going to be blown away by the talent of these two women. They’re so young, and to have that much talent and they’re the sweetest people in the world. It’s like going to summer camp, we all just hangout and it’s fun.

How many episodes have you guys shot so far?

Jonathan Kite: We’re in the middle of four right now.

And do you know how many episodes have been ordered?

Jonathan Kite: They picked us up for thirteen, and so we have nine more guaranteed, no matter what. Then we got on a little bit of a winter hiatus and knock on wood, hopefully we’ll find out soon enough. I think in October we’re done.

Being next to ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and Two and A Half Men’ there’s going to be an onslaught of attention. Can anyone be truly ready for this?

Jonathan Kite: I think this is something that’s nice for me because I think that when I first got here, a while ago, no one could really fit me. I could do certain things and I think look wise, because looks are so important in this town in terms of typing someone, and I think I’ve kind of been waiting for this for a long time. I think the great thing about the show is s getting a lot of attention, but I think now in the middle of four we have more attention to detail and the work than we even did in the pilot.

The pilot was one of the most intense and incredible things that I’d ever worked on. I think that every week we seem to get better and better at it. I think the important thing for me so far is, honestly, I just focus on keep doing it. That’s the reason you’re there. The attention and everything comes as a nice bonus to the project. So, again, you hope that you’re a part of things that people like, but the truth is the only way that they like them, I can really look at myself in the mirror at night and say, ‘You did the job that A) even from a money standpoint, that I’m paid to do.’

I do a job that I can really believe in, that I can look at myself in the mirror at night and say, ‘You know what, I did the best that I could do today,’ good or bad and then just keep doing the work. Then everything that comes as a sidebar, that’s fun. We’ve gone to a lot of parties and people have been really sweet about everything and I certainly appreciate that. But I know that comes not out of myself. More parties don’t generate more parties. It’s the work itself, and honestly just committing to that and understanding that that’s what it is because without that there’s nothing.

You have a knack for impressions. When did you know that you were good at that?

Jonathan Kite: My dad is an old movie buff, and so I was doing impressions of Peter Lorre when I was really young. I’m talking like about five. I could do the very basic, like, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Cosby, Christopher Walken, Peter Lorre, but then my manager only about three years ago started submitting me on a lot of sketch show auditions and stuff, and I literally started learning impressions because I would go there and have really good feedback and I think they’d say – because I do a bunch of characters, too – ‘Well, who can you do that’s current, who’s on television.’

I literally put myself into an odd position where I’d say somebody that I thought I could learn in forty eight hours, but didn’t have yet. The one that I think I do the most is probably Vince Vaughn and that came out of a women saying, ‘Who can you do that’s today,’ and I was like, ‘I can do Vince Vaughn.’ She was like, ‘Great, you have a producers callback. Come back Monday,’ and I could not do Vince Vaughn. So, I stayed home and watched YouTube clip and movies of his. I’ve been a fan of his forever. I mean, he grew up in Lake Forest. I grew up in Skokie, Illinois, very close to one another.

I’ve been a fan of his a long time, and I’m sure I looked like Howard Hughes when he really let himself go, with the fingernails and the Kleenex boxes because I didn’t come out of my room for forty eight hours and I literally sat in front of the computer and the TV and just went back and forth and said, ‘He does that.’ I’d run out and show my cousin who’s a musician and a musical engineer and a producer. So, he has a real ear for sound, and he’d be like, ‘Yeah, keep going in that direction.’ I stayed inside and didn’t see the light of day until I came out and did it for them.

Any other projects that you have coming up that you can talk about?

Jonathan Kite: I’m going to be doing ‘Black Dynamite’, the animated series at Tin House animation. I’m blessed to be a part of a project like that because I was such a big fan of the movie and Michael Jai White is still playing Black Dynamite. All the greats are coming back. Tommy Davidson and everyone from the film and they’re doing an animated series. The pilot just came out online a couple of days ago, a week or so ago and it got a crazy response. So, yeah, I’m doing some of that. And then there’s some other stuff coming out, and legally I can’t say some of those things until we get start dates and stuff, but I have a bunch of stuff that’s about to get announced.

If you could guest star on any TV show you want, your pick of the litter, which one would it be?

Jonathan Kite: Let me think about this real quick. Yeah, probably ‘Saturday Night Live’ or maybe even ‘Boardwalk Empire’. Actually, FUTURAMA!

Jonathan Kite

(Photo credit: JSQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY)