Greg Kinnear's Portrayal Is "Genius"

Academy-Award-winning actor Greg Kinnear sat down with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith to discuss his latest film "Flash of Genius." CBS/The Early Show

With a warm familiarity, a sensitive yet strong and driven side, Academy Award-winning actor Greg Kinnear encompasses all of the facets of a truly great American actor.

While reaching the pinnacle of his career, Kinnear is creating some Oscar buzz with his portrayal of Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper in "Flash of Genius."

Kinnear got his break in 1995 in a romantic comedy, "Sabrina." Since then, he has starred in "Little Miss Sunshine" and "As Good As It Gets," which garnered him an Academy Award.

Based on a true story, "Flash of Genius" tells the story of a family man who comes up with an invention that Detroit had never seen before. When he reveals his invention to Ford Motor Company, they take it from him and try and rob him of his recognition.
"They take it from him. He came up with the device that … it's not your windshield wiper, it's that little intermittent device that allows for it to have that little intermittent pause in it," Kinnear told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith..

"He brought it to the Ford Motor Company and he spent about 15 years of his life trying to get them to acknowledge that they had stolen his idea. And it's a pretty rough road. He goes through a lot of highs and lows. He was an amazing man. He died the year before I got involved in the project, but it's a heck of a story," Kinnear said.

The question arises however as to whether Kearns' obsession was bordering on insanity or if it was just that he sought recognition and justice from Ford.

"Difficult to say," Kinnear admitted. "He had a nervous breakdown, we know that. There's no question about that. And he went through some very obsessive points of his life where he could have had many opportunities to set this aside."

Taking the money from Ford, thus taking care of his family and just walking away would have been too easy for Kearns, instead he fought this battle -- a mission that dragged on for decades and affected his family.

"I think a lot of people -- it's a little unsettling watching the movie -- people are like well, drop this thing, get out of it, finish it, but the truth is, I think people have to consider, this is an idea. He wasn't a patent troll, a guy who was tied up with ideas. This is a guy who created this idea, was born out of a personal handicap, and he had a real sense that this was a thing that he had been violated," Kinnear said.

According to Smith, "Flash Of Genius" is going to be a movie that people are going to be talking about for months and years to come.

Kinnear admits that he was emotionally attached to the movie.

"It was originally called 'Windshield Wiper Man.' I thought it was a superhero with a squeegee and the cape," Kinnear chuckled. "But once I read it, I was taken with the story. It's an unusual kind of American journey and a guy who wouldn't let go. Ford kind of picked the wrong guy to tangle with."
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