Spacey at South Street Seaport, April 24, 2009
|Born||Kevin Spacey Fowler
July 26, 1959
South Orange, New Jersey, United States
|Alma mater||Juilliard School|
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer, screenwriter|
Kevin Spacey, CBE (born Kevin Spacey Fowler; July 26, 1959) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer. He grew up in California, and began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s, before being cast in supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in the early 1990s, culminating in his first Academy Award for The Usual Suspects (Best Supporting Actor), followed by a Best Actor Academy Award win for American Beauty (1999). His other starring roles in Hollywood include Seven, L.A. Confidential, Pay It Forward, K-PAX, and Superman Returns in a career which has earned him several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Since 2003, he has been artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London. He recently starred in the Netflix series House of Cards.
Spacey was born in South Orange, New Jersey, the son of Kathleen Ann (née Knutson; December 5, 1931 – March 19, 2003), a secretary, and Thomas Geoffrey Fowler (June 4, 1924 – December 24, 1992), a technical writer and data consultant. He has two older siblings: a sister, Julie, and a brother, Randy. He has Swedish (from his maternal grandfather), English, and Welsh ancestry. Spacey attended Northridge Military Academy, Canoga Park High School (in tenth and eleventh grades), and then Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, Los Angeles, where he graduated valedictorian of his class. At Chatsworth High, he starred in the school's senior production of The Sound of Music, playing the part of Captain Georg von Trapp, opposite Mare Winningham's character, Maria.
While in high school, Spacey took on his paternal grandmother's maiden name, "Spacey," as his acting surname. Several reports have incorrectly suggested that he took his name in tribute to actor Spencer Tracy, combining Tracy's first and last names. He had tried to succeed as a comedian for several years, before attending the Juilliard School in New York City, where he studied drama, between 1979 and 1981. During this time period, Spacey performed stand-up comedy in bowling alley talent contests.
Spacey's first professional stage appearance was as a spear carrier in a New York Shakespeare Festival performance of Henry VI, part 1 in 1981. The following year, he made his first Broadway appearance, as Oswald in a production of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, starring Liv Ullmann. Then he portrayed Philinte in Molière's The Misanthrope. In 1984, he appeared in a production of David Rabe's Hurlyburly, in which he rotated through each of the male parts (he would later play Mickey in the film version). Next came Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. In 1986, he appeared in a production of Sleuth in a New Jersey dinner theatre.
His prominence as a stage actor began in 1986, when he was cast opposite Jack Lemmon, Peter Gallagher and Bethel Leslie as Jamie, the eldest Tyrone son in Jonathan Miller's lauded production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night. Lemmon in particular would become a mentor to Spacey. He made his first major television appearance in the second season premiere of Crime Story, playing a Kennedy-esque American senator. Although his interest soon turned to film, Spacey remained actively involved in the live theater community. In 1991, he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of "Uncle Louie" in Neil Simon's Broadway hit Lost in Yonkers. Spacey's father was unconvinced that Spacey could make a career for himself as an actor, and did not change his mind until Spacey became well-known.
Some of Spacey's early roles include a widowed eccentric millionaire on L.A. Law, the television miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988), opposite Lemmon, and the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder–starring comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). Spacey earned a fan base following after playing the criminally insane arms dealer Mel Profitt on the television series Wiseguy. He quickly developed a reputation as a character actor, and was cast in bigger roles, including one-half of the bickering Connecticut couple in the dark comedy The Ref (1994), a malicious Hollywood studio boss in the satire Swimming with Sharks, and the malevolent office manager in the all-star ensemble film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), gaining him positive notices by critics. His performance as the enigmatic criminal Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Spacey appeared in the 1995 thriller film Seven, with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, making a sudden entrance late in the film as the serial killer John Doe, after going unmentioned in the film's advertisements and opening credits. His work in Seven, The Usual Suspects, and Outbreak earned him Best Supporting Actor honors at the 1995 Society of Texas Film Critics Awards. He remarked in 2013, "I think people just like me evil for some reason. They want me to be a son of a bitch."
Spacey played an egomaniacal district attorney in A Time to Kill (1996), and founded Trigger Street Productions in 1997, with the purpose of producing and developing entertainment across various media. He made his directorial debut with the film Albino Alligator (1996). The film was a failure at the box office, grossing $339,379 with a budget of $6 million, but critics praised Spacey's direction. He also did voice work in Pixar's A Bug's Life (1998) voicing Hopper, the leader of a vicious gang of grasshoppers.
Spacey won universal praise and a Best Actor Oscar for his role as a depressed suburban father who re-evaluates his life in 1999's American Beauty; the same year, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Spacey won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and earned another Tony nomination in 1999 for The Iceman Cometh. In 2001, Spacey co-hosted, with Judi Dench, the Unite for the Future Gala, a UK fundraiser for the British Victims of 9/11 and Médecins Sans Frontières at London's Old Vic Theatre, produced by Harvey Goldsmith and Dominic Madden.
He played a physically and emotionally scarred grade school teacher in Pay It Forward (2000), a patient in a mental institution who may or may not be an alien in K-Pax (2001), and singer Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea (2004). Beyond The Sea was a lifelong dream project for Spacey, who took on co-writing, directing, co-producing and starring duties in the biography/musical about Darin's life, career, and relationship with actress Sandra Dee. Facing little interest for backing in the States, Spacey went to the UK and Germany for funding. Almost all of the movie was filmed in Berlin. Spacey provided his own vocals on the Beyond the Sea soundtrack and appeared in several tribute concerts around the time of the film's release. He received mostly positive reviews for his singing, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. However, reviewers criticized the age disparity between Spacey and Darin, noting that Spacey was too old to convincingly portray Darin, particularly during the early stages of the singer's life depicted in the film.
Spacey hosted Saturday Night Live twice: first in 1997 with musical guest Beck and special guests Michael Palin and John Cleese from Monty Python's Flying Circus; and again in May 2006 with musical guest Nelly Furtado.
In 2006, Spacey played Lex Luthor in the Bryan Singer–directed superhero film, Superman Returns. He was to return for its 2009 sequel, but it was recently revealed that there won't be a chronological sequel; it is currently unknown if he has been asked to resume the role in any future films. Spacey also appeared in Edison, co-starring Morgan Freeman and Justin Timberlake; Edison received a direct-to-video release on July 18, 2006. In 2008, he played an MIT lecturer in the film 21, along with Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, and Jim Sturgess. The film is based on Ben Mezrich's best seller, Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, a story of student MIT card-counters who used mathematical probability to aid them in card games such as blackjack. In early 2010, Spacey went to China to star in writer-director Dayyan Eng's black-comedy film, Inseparable, alongside Hong Kong star Daniel Wu. Spacey was the first Hollywood actor to star in a fully Chinese-funded film.
Spacey is well known in Hollywood for his impressions. When he appeared on Inside the Actors Studio he imitated, at host James Lipton's request: James Stewart, Johnny Carson, Katharine Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, John Gielgud, Marlon Brando, Christopher Walken, Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon.
The Old Vic
In February 2003, Spacey announced that he was returning to London to become the artistic director of the Old Vic, one of the city's oldest theatres. Appearing at a press conference with Judi Dench and Elton John, he promised both to appear on stage and to bring in big-name talent. Spacey undertook to remain in the post for a full ten years. The Old Vic Theatre Company, in its current form, stages shows eight months out of the year. Spacey's first season started in September 2004, and opened with the British premiere of the play Cloaca by Maria Goos, directed by Spacey, which opened to mixed reviews. In the 2005 season, Spacey made his UK Shakespearean debut, to good notices, in the title role of Richard II directed by Trevor Nunn.
In mid-2006, Spacey said that he was having the time of his life working at the Old Vic; at this point in his career, he said, he was "trying to do things now that are much bigger and outside himself". He performed in productions of National Anthems by Dennis McIntyre, and The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry in which he played C.K. Dexter Haven, the Cary Grant role in the film version. Critics applauded Spacey for taking on the management of a theatre, but noted that while his acting was impressive, his skills and judgment as a producer/manager had yet to develop.
In the 2006 season, Spacey suffered a major setback with a production of Arthur Miller's Resurrection Blues, directed by Robert Altman. Despite an all-star cast (including Neve Campbell and Matthew Modine) and the pedigree of Miller's script, Spacey's decision to lure Altman to the stage proved disastrous: after a fraught rehearsal period, the play opened to a critical panning, and closed after only a few weeks. Later in the year, Spacey starred in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, along with Colm Meaney and Eve Best. The play received excellent reviews for Spacey and Best, and was transferred to Broadway in 2007. For the spring part of the 2007–08 season, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Michelle Kelly joined Spacey as the three characters in David Mamet's 1988 play Speed-the-Plow.
In September 2009, Trevor Nunn directed Spacey in a revival of Inherit The Wind. Spacey played defense lawyer Henry Drummond, a role that was made famous by Spencer Tracy in the 1960 film of the same name.
In June 2008, he was appointed as Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine's College, Oxford, succeeding Patrick Stewart in the post. He was officially welcomed on October 13, 2008.
A 1999 Sunday Times article stated that Spacey's "love affair with acting, and the absence of a visible partner in the life of an attractive 40-year-old, has resulted in misunderstanding and Esquire magazine's bet-hedging assertion two years ago that he must be gay." He responded to such rumours by telling Playboy and other interviewers that he was not gay, and telling Lesley White of the Sunday Times, "I chose for a long time not to answer these questions because of the manner in which they were asked, and because I was never talking to someone I trusted, so why should I? Recently I chose to participate because it's a little hard on the people I love," Spacey said to Gotham Magazine. "I’ve just never believed in pimping my personal life out for publicity. I’m not interested in doing it. Never will do it. They can gossip all they want; they can speculate all they want." He added, "I just happen to believe that there’s a public life and there’s a private life. Everybody has a right to a private life no matter what their profession is."
In 1999, Spacey took his girlfriend of several years to the Academy Awards and thanked her during the acceptance speech for his Best Actor award. Reports in 1999 and 2000 suggested she was a script supervisor, Dianne Dreyer.
Spacey is a Democrat and a friend of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, having met Clinton before his presidency began. Spacey has described Clinton as "one of the shining lights" of the political process. According to Federal Election Commission data, as of 2006 Spacey had contributed US$42,000 to Democratic candidates and committees. He additionally made a cameo appearance in the short film President Clinton: Final Days, a light-hearted political satire produced by the Clinton administration for the White House Correspondents Dinner.
In September 2007, Spacey met Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Neither spoke to the press about their encounter, but hours later the actor visited the government-funded movie studio Villa del Cine (Cinema City). In December of that year he co-hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert with Uma Thurman.
In March 2011, following Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko's crackdown on the Belarusian democracy movement, Spacey, along with Jude Law and others, joined street protests against Lukashenko. Spacey said "they will never be able to ban the Belarus people's right to fight for their freedom and their voices to be heard, and that's what this protest is about."
|2004||Beyond the Sea||Nominated—Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
with Phil Ramone
|1997||"That Old Black Magic"||from the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil soundtrack|
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- Against the Law: Jude joins Kevin Spacey on street protest against brutal Belarus regime of 'Europe's last dictator'. The Daily Mail. March 29, 2011
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