Oh, how fandom can mislead you. With The Extra Man coming out this week, I thought: "Perfect! I can write a Their Best Role piece of Kevin Kline!" I've loved the man since I first saw him on stage in my youth, and since he's so tied to theater, Kline's credits are quite manageable. He has less than 40 cinematic (live-action) roles to his name. But it isn't so easy to pick a best role for Kline. Though his roster remains relatively small, it is jam-packed with memorable characters, whether we're talking about excellent films that he had an excellent part in, or easily forgettable films where he was the lone beacon of light.
Though not a big-screen role at first, it all started with Joseph Papp's production of Pirates of Penzance. With Kline as The Pirate King, the production became so popular that it was taped and released, jumped to Broadway, and was ultimately sculpted into a feature film. The roguish character was perfect for Kline's talents, intermingling charisma, theatrical audacity, and a healthy dose of silliness. But Kline quickly established that he was more than some easy-to-love pirate battling Chris Atkins for the cinematic seas. Before the film was released, he starred alongside Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice as her troubled love, Nathan, and within a few years, there were three Kevin Klines, who remain to this day.