Actor Jonathan Kite spills on how he got started doing celebrity impressions, what he was like in high school, and how his 2 Broke Girlscharacter has toned down after marriage.
Jonathan Kite knows how to play outrageous characters, from the sex-crazed Oleg on 2 Broke Girls to his spot-on celebrity impression videos of Vince Vaughn, President Obama, and Donald Trump, which have garnered over three million views. Kite has been acting since he was a teenager and is returning to his high school in Illinois this summer to shoot his first recorded stand-up comedy show, Jonathan Kite’s Back to School Special.
We chat with Kite about his hilarious impressions, Oleg’s impending fatherhood on 2 Broke Girls, and the show's season finale.
How did you first discover that you had this talent for impersonating people? JONATHAN KITE: I didn’t really start doing [celebrity] impressions until a couple of years ago when I auditioned for a sketch show in Los Angeles. I was in the audition and they asked me who I could do that was on TV or movies today. I thought I had a month or two to memorize if I said a few names. I was like I can do Vince Vaughn, Nicolas Cage. And they said, “Great, the callback is Monday.” And this was Friday afternoon. So I had 48 hours to kind of make good on my lie. I sat in front of the TV and YouTube. I watched Vince Vaughn’s movie Fred Clause, that opening sequence where he kind of bitches out a little girl. I probably watched that like 50 times and I just kind of looked at it over and over and over and over again. I sort of realized from that weekend, oh maybe you can do this.
Have you ever done one of your impressions face to face to any of the celebrities? JK: I did one for Vince Vaughn. He was really nice about it because I’ve only heard rumors that [nobody]—not Vince, but just people in general—takes it that well. Or their friends all think they sound like that but they don’t. Which is understandable, I think, just because the way we sound to ourselves—the little joke about we hear ourselves back on the answering machine and it’s like, “I don’t sound like that.” He was very cool about it though. I did a table read with him and his production company. Afterwards, he went to go do something and his buddies were like, “Do Vaughn, do Vaughn.” It was like they said Beetlejuice three times because he appeared. And he was like, “Yeah, yeah, do me. How do I sound?” I just did it for him. He was very surprised, I think, and I was like, “No, no, no, I do other people” because I didn’t want him to think I was vocally stalking him. I did Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise and a couple of the guys for him, which was cool.
How is your character Oleg on 2 Broke Girls different now that he’s a married man? JK: Surprisingly enough, he’s toned down. They’ve done a really good job, and I don’t really know the levels of sexual perversity but they’ve really done a great job, the writers, because he’s definitely like a single guy in those [early] seasons. You can tell that there’s a more crafted toned-down way that he talks and the way that he is talked about. I think that’s really clever. There’s a scene where Kat Dennings’ character Max says something and Sophie [played by Jennifer Coolidge] says, “Well you can’t say that about him anymore because we’re married.” There was definitely an adjustment shift very clearly slated from their end. I still say sexual things but they’re all geared toward Sophie. They’re not just throwing them out to the universe to see what comes back, like the echo of sexuality.
Oleg (Jonathan Kite, LEFT) with Max Black (Kat Dennings), Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs), Sophie (Jennifer Coolidge) and Earl (Garrett Morris).
Oleg is also about to be a father. What kind of dad do you think he will be? JK: I think he’ll be good, I mean I think he has a lot of love, and I think that’s why he and Sophie work out so well. He’s a very passionate guy. He’s there to make Sophie happy. That’s what he does and that’s the love of his life and I think that’s just an extension and now a new baby coming into the world and having the two of them do it. I’m excited actually. I think next season is awesome.
What do you think Oleg would want for Father’s Day? JK: He would want maybe a necktie for his d--k. Fathers always get neckties that they never wear. Or a subscription to Playboy magazine. But they’re taking out the nudes so he would say no.
And what can we expect from the season finale of 2 Broke Girls? JK: The finale is fun. There’s a huge surprise, I’ll just say that. It’s an evolution of the characters in the story and we haven’t really done anything like that before. The marriage, everybody knew was coming last year. Which was great, which was fun. There was a big build-up all season and you finally get to have that payoff. But this, something really unexpected happens and it brings everybody closer together and it’s nice because we haven’t seen something like this before.
Your first stand-up special is being filmed at your high school. What were you like in high school? JK: For me, I didn’t have an awkward high school experience. I wasn’t like homecoming king or the thrilling quarterback, Hail Mary in the fourth. I grew up in Skokie like five blocks from the high school at my parents’ house. It was cool to grow up so close to it. I was really active in theater. I played basketball for one year. It was a pretty big high school. I just had a great experience. I’ve done theater my whole life before I moved to LA and I remember thinking that it really all started in my high school. So I thought I would go back there and have it. And I thought what better way to kind of show what I’ve gone out into the world and learned, than to come back and perform.