The King of Kong
Among the myriad of archetypical characters featured in the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Steve Sanders represents the suit. Caught fabricating Donkey Kong scores at a young age, Sanders got schooled by champion Billy Mitchell and decided to take the corporate path in life. Still friends with Mitchell, who has distanced himself from the documentary, Sanders shared his perspective on what turns out to be the villain of the film.
Steve Sanders as King of Kong's Villain
“It’s interesting, I guess ironic is the word, that the movie kind of portrays Billy as kind of the Darth Vader,” said Sanders. “Billy and I both were big Star Wars fans. Like most video game players, we were and still are geeks, nerds, whatever. We were huge Star Wars fans and when Billy and I first talked, I had the world record. Billy, when he beat me, he would love to quote Darth Vader’s line when he says to Obi Wan, ‘When we first met, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.’ That’s the line he has before the big light saber scene where he kills Obi Wan. Unfortunately, I regret that the movie portrays Billy as sort of the Darth Vader character because he’s not that way.”
The reigning champion of Donkey Kong, Mitchell does his best to keep underdog Steve Wiebe down. Ultimately, he hides from the documentary crew to keep his plotting secret.
“I’m not going to say that he is a perfect human being. Perfect Pac Man maybe but not a perfect human being. None of us are. Any time that a documentarian follows you around as much as they followed all of us around, you’re going to say things and do things that reveal parts of you that you don’t really want to reveal. I read a journalist who made a comment about the movie, a blogger I should say, ‘It must be scripted, it must be contrived because nobody would say those things or do those things on camera.’ Well, we wouldn’t have if we had been actively thinking I’m on camera right now. We were just being followed around so much that we relaxed. So some of the moments where Bill looks at his worst, I guess it’s fair to say he was at his worst at that moment. But that’s not his whole life. He has great moments and bad moments just like you and I do.”
Still in touch with Mitchell after the film has been completed, Sanders is not an official spokesman by any count. “No, our friendship’s not that way. He’s got his opinions and I have mine and sometimes we have similar and sometimes not so similar opinions. I think the fact that I’m here and he’s not says something but my heart goes out to Billy. He’s a great guy and a great friend.”
With a Hollywood feature in the works based on The King of Kong, even Sanders has gotten into the casting fantasy. “It’s actually under contract, it’s Brad Pitt or nobody. That’s a joke. I actually know Brad’s brother, so Doug, if you’re listening, work on Brad for me. My children tell me that a good candidate would be Jack Black but my wife reminds me how fat I am so maybe it’ll be Jack.”
The King of Kong opens to theaters on August 17th.
For the trailer, poster and more movie info, go to The King of Kong Movie Page.