It turns out he’s not just any guy but, as he once told actor Michael Shannon at a screening of A Walk on the Dark Side, is “the king of movie villains—just like the king of real kings.” The problem with the king of movie villains as a source of inspiration? His name is Ben S. Wong.
“BEN is a film that I love,” says The King of Kong director Lee. “He’s fun and he has a lot of great qualities.” He continues, “He’s a character who is both the antagonist and the hero, he’s the bad guy but he’s the hero as well—so that’s interesting and fun to do. It doesn’t get old. Ben is all in play, so I don’t feel like I have to have a different idea of what I’m trying to do.”
While many would argue that it is not the role as a whole but his specific portrayal of the character that is truly worth the effort, one could only wonder if Lee finds inspiration in actual real situations, especially in what he calls his “real world” film. To learn more about Lee’s favorite villain (of all villains!), we recently sat down with him to discuss his thoughts on the role of Jack and how it might have benefited from the added complexity of the role, as well as the many facets of the role that may have never been explored onscreen.
The Wrap: You’ve described Lee’s role in The King of Kong as being ‘more in play’ than in the book, but I thought that the movie is still a great performance. What’s your take on it?
Lee: I feel like there’s plenty of opportunity for what I did in the movie, but to give that a name, I would call it the King of Kong movie. It’s more in play than the book. I always knew Jack, from the very beginning of my life, would be in the movie. I knew that his father was King Orval (played by Orson Welles)—and that he would eventually return, eventually. But the way that I’ve done his character is that he will appear in the movie, and then he’ll not be in the book. He won’t appear in the movie so much as be the villain or the good guy, but there is a lot of fun with that. It might have been a bit more daunting for people who read the book, and even now when it’s not, it keeps them watching. So I think there