- Associated Press - Thursday, December 16, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) - Kevin Spacey not only transforms into disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack,” he gets to imitate former Presidents Clinton and Reagan, Al Pacino and many others.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Spacey says “Everyone talked about how he (Abramoff) always did impressions, he was always quoting movies, he was very, very personable, very funny, and I didn’t think there was enough of that in the script,” so Spacey added several impersonations.

Spacey says he developed his own knack for imitating other people when he was young.

“It really stems back from when I was a little kid and I used to be able to make my mother laugh and that was sort of the first thing that I discovered was if I could make my mother laugh it was a pretty good day.”

Spacey, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance, absorbed Abramoff’s personality and mannerisms while visiting him in prison for several hours.

“It was really valuable,” Spacey says, “because I got a chance to see how he behaved, the way in which he thought, the kinds of things he talked about.” Though Abramoff served 3 1/2 years in federal custody for fraud, corruption and conspiracy, Spacey says “the most surprising thing to me was how charming and very funny he was and is.”

Director George Hickenlooper, who died October 30 of an accidental overdose of ethanol and oxymorphone at the age of 47, said the prison visit ended with Spacey and Abramoff trading impressions. But Spacey wouldn’t recreate the moment during an interview. “You gotta pay for that stuff,” he says. “I’m not like a seal, you throw me a fish. It’s only AP for goodness sakes.”

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