TODAY   |  November 05, 2012

Actor Kevin Pollak does his best impersonations

In his book “How I Slept My Way to the Middle,” Kevin Pollak writes about the highlights of his acting career, including meeting John Belushi and getting cast in “A Few Good Men.” He also tells Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb how his impersonations of famous stars helped define him as an actor.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> kevin pollak began his career at a very young age with gigs as a stand-up comedian and impressionist. starring in more than five dozen movies, really? including "a few good men" and " usual suspects ."

>> his new book is called "how i slept my way to the

middle: secrets and stories from the stage screen and interweb."

>> we love the title, the book, not so much, but the title is awesome.

>> for years, i've been saying you hear it's lonely at the top , i'm here to tell you it's warm at the middle. this face will get me a table at a restaurant just about anywhere in the world, but the studios don't need me to sell tickets, so it's perfect.

>> a burden on you, in a sense.

>> paparazzi is not chasing me, it's perfect.

>> the great impressions you did of different people. who should we ask him to do?

>> i think it's time for christopher walken , is it not? when is it not time for christopher walken . i wish i had a cooking segment to do on the show. make my chicken and pears. there i am. there are stories about me meeting him in the book. i started doing impersonations early in my career, then i started meeting these people and working with them in movies.

>> did they like you, know what you did at the time?

>> did you notice i stammer less now that you started doing me? i heard the impression, i don't care for the stammer.

>> one person you really love was tom cruise , said he was delightful as can be.

>> inspiring professional, delightful to be around, races out of his trailer to get to the set. he sets the pace on the set. we're all in this together, let's be professionals. i just felt a generosity towards me and everyone else on the crew.

>> i like the story with you and johnny carson . you said i don't want to get up there and do stand-up. i want to sit next to him.

>> you can't sit next to him, though.

>> i watched the show my whole life. in fact, i make the note, there's me teaching carson how to do william shatner .

>> we could probably use a little of right now.

>> let me just say, it's a pleasure to be here. hi. turns 3, by the way, in april.

>> was it fun on that moment?

>> yeah. first thing i did was peter faulk. he had peter faulk on all the time. the one eye moving, peter was open about the glass eye . when i did this, he pushed himself away from the desk he was laughing so hard.

>> oh, my gosh. that is better than the good housekeeping seal of approval.

>> it was, it was truly amazing. every time i did the show after that, my next guest is a little strange, please, welcome kevin pollak . and you would pass in front of his desk and the moment you pass in front of his desk, you'd stand and shake his hand, back to the audience, he would lean in and say excuse me, sorry to bother you. he did that to me every time i did the show.

>> great memories, great memories. that took guts, though.

>> it did.

>> everybody dies to get on "the tonight show ." even if it's just to do the monologue you do. that might have been your only chance.

>> i was young. that's when you have a chance to be stupid and take chances.

>> there was a part you wanted, you didn't want to audition for it. you just wanted the part.

>> right.

>> was that "the usual suspects "?

>> my agent wanted me to wait and get an offer. after "a few good men," i was passed from having to audition to getting offers. that's a big, big moment for any actor. night and day . i go in detail how auditioning is sort of designed to fail as a structure.

>> designed to destroy you as a human being .

>> when you go in, you have no security or confidence. whereas when you're offered the part, you're filled with that.

>> the book is a lot of fun, we really enjoyed it.

>> thank you so much.

>> thank you very much.

>> do you do regis?

>> are you ready for this,