Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey Fowler (born July 26, 1959) is an American actor and film director. 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 Oscar for The Usual Suspects (Supporting), followed by a Best Actor Oscar win for American Beauty (1999). He has starred in many other Hollywood films including Se7en, L.A. Confidential, Pay It Forward, and Superman Returns. Since 2003, he has been artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London.


Early life

Spacey was born in South Orange, New Jersey to Kathleen A. Spacey (1931-2003), a secretary, and Thomas Geoffrey Fowler (1924-1992), a technical writer. He has two older siblings: a sister, Julie, and a brother, Randy. He attended Northridge Military Academy from which he was expelled, Canoga Park High School (in tenth and eleventh grades), and then Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, California, 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, he took his mother's maiden name, "Spacey", originally a Welsh name, belonging to his great-great-grandfather (spelled "Spacy"), 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 stand-up 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 Moliere's The Misanthrope. In 1984, it was David Rabe's Hurlyburly where, energetic and fabulously adaptable, Spacey rotated through each of the male parts (he'd later appear as Mickey in the screen version too). Next came Anton Chekhov's The Seagull and a period, in 1986, performing Sleuth in a New Jersey dinner theatre. But his fame as a stage actor really 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. 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 a well known theatre actor.

Some of Spacey's earlier roles include a widowed eccentric millionaire on L.A. Law, the made-for-television film The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988) opposite Jack Lemmon, and the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder-starring comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). Spacey earned an avid 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 put-upon office manager in the all-star ensemble film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), gaining him positive notices by critics.

In 1995, Spacey appeared in Se7en with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, making a sudden and unexpected entrance late in the film as the serial killer John Doe after going unmentioned in the film's ads and opening credits.

The crippled criminal Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects launched him to A-list status and won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 1996, Spacey played an egomaniacal district attorney in A Time to Kill, and founded Trigger Street Productions in 1997 with the purpose of producing and developing entertainment across various media. In 1996 he made his directorial debut with the film Albino Alligator. The film was a failure at the box office but Spacey's direction was praised.

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 also earned another Tony nomination the same year for his work in a Broadway production of The Iceman Cometh. During the several years following American Beauty's release, Spacey appeared in films that he believes hadn't done as well critically or in terms of box office. In 2001, Spacey co-hosted with Dame Judi Dench Unite for the Future Gala, the UK's fundraiser for the British Victims of 9/11 and Medecins Sans Frontieres 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, a patient in a mental institution who may or may not be an alien in K-Pax, and singer Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea. Beyond The Sea was a lifelong dream project for Spacey, who took on co-writing, directing, and starring duties in the biography/musical about Darin's life, career, and relationship with late actress Sandra Dee. 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 has said that despite criticism, he is still proud of 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. In this episode, Spacey parodied Christopher Walken, Walter Matthau, and Jack Lemmon in a three-part pre-taped sketch about actors who auditioned for the original Star Wars movie; and again in the last episode of season 31 with musical guest Nelly Furtado where Spacey played a detective in the sketch "Two A-Holes At A Crime Scene", one of the Falconer's past selves in Will Forte's sketch, "The Falconer", a parody of Neil Young in a commercial for a new album with songs by musicians against George W. Bush and his administration, and as himself in a parody of The Usual Suspects.

In 2006, Spacey played the nefarious Lex Luthor in the Bryan Singer-directed superhero film, Superman Returns. It recently was confirmed he will return in the sequel, scheduled for 2009. Spacey also appeared in Edison Force, co-starring Morgan Freeman and Justin Timberlake; Edison Force 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.

Spacey is well-known in Hollywood for his impressions as when he appeared on Inside the Actors Studio he imitated, at host James Lipton's request: Jimmy Stewart, Johnny Carson, Katharine Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, John Gielgud, Marlon Brando, Christopher Walken, Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon.

Capitol/EMI's "Forever Cool" (2007) features two duets with Spacey and the voice of the late Dean Martin: "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" and "King of the Road."

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 alongside Dame Judi Dench and Sir 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. He thus became the first Artistic Director of the newly formed Old Vic Theatre Company, which stages shows eight months out of the year. Its first season, starting in September 2004, 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.

After that, in mid 2006, Spacey noted that he was having the time of [his] life working at the Old Vic, and explained that at this point in his career, he felt that 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 the role made famous by Cary Grant in the film version. Critics applauded Spacey's daring 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. However in the 2006 season, Spacey suffered a humiliating failure with a production of Resurrection Blues, a little-known Arthur Miller play, directed by film director Robert Altman. Despite an all-star Hollywood 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 only a few weeks into its run. Spacey resurrected his game later in the year, starring 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 2007-8 season American film actor Jeff Goldblum and British Laura Michelle Kelly joined Spacey as the three characters in David Mamet's 1988 play Speed-the-Plow.

Spacey was awarded an Doctor of Letters, honoris causa from the London South Bank University in November 2005.

In June 2008, he has been appointed as a visiting professor of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine's College, Oxford.

Mr Spacey is also supporting a vigorous campaign in Waltham Forest set up by two 16 year olds to try to save the only Theatre in their Borough.

Personal life

In September 2006, Spacey announced his intention to stay on at the Old Vic for at least another nine years, and that due to his continuing UK residency he intends to take up British citizenship when it becomes available to him.

Spacey is a convinced Democrat and a friend of former 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, Spacey has contributed US$42,000 to Democratic candidates and committees. He additionally had a cameo appearance in 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 of them spoke to the press about their encounter, but hours later the actor visited the publicly funded movie studio, Cinema Villa.

In December of that year, he co-hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert with Uma Thurman.

Spacey is unmarried and discreet about his private and sentimental life, of which very little is known. This generated in the tabloid press rumours that he might be a homosexual. However, April Winchell revealed, in broadcasts of her KFI show, on her web diary and several other websites, that she and Kevin Spacey dated for a while after high school, during a run of the Gypsy musical in which they were both performing, and later went to New York together. She and Spacey have remained friends ever since. Between 1992 and 2000, Spacey dated Dianne Dreyer, script supervisor to Anthony Minghella, M. Night Shyamalan and Sydney Pollack. He also briefly dated actress Helen Hunt in 2000.


Year Title Role Other notes
1986 Heartburn Subway Thief First Motion Picture
1988 Working Girl Bob Speck
Rocket Gibraltar Dwayne Hanson
Wiseguy Mel Profitt television series
1989 Dad Mario
See No Evil, Hear No Evil Kirgo
1991 Henry & June Richard Osborn
A Show of Force Frank Curtin
1992 Consenting Adults Eddy Otis
Glengarry Glen Ross John Williamson
1994 The Ref Lloyd Chasseur
Iron Will Harry Kingsley
1995 Se7en John Doe MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
The Usual Suspects Roger 'Verbal' Kint Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Swimming with Sharks Buddy Ackerman co-producer
Outbreak Maj. Casey Schuler
1996 Looking for Richard Himself, Duke of Buckingham
A Time to Kill D.A. Rufus Buckley
1997 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil James 'Jim' Williams
L.A. Confidential Det. Sgt. Jack Vincennes
Albino Alligator director only
1998 Hurlyburly Mickey
The Negotiator Lt. Chris Sabian
A Bug's Life Hopper (voice)
1999 American Beauty Lester Burnham Academy Award for Best Actor
2000 Pay It Forward Eugene Simonet
The Big Kahuna Larry Mann also producer
2001 The Shipping News Quoyle
K-PAX prot/Robert Porter
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure Narrator (voice)
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Himself (playing Doctor Evil in a film)
2003 The Life of David Gale David Gale
Ordinary Decent Criminal Michael Lynch also producer / direct-to-video release
2004 Beyond the Sea Bobby Darin also director/writer/producer
The United States of Leland Albert T. Fitzgerald also producer
2006 Edison Force Wallace direct-to-video
Superman Returns Lex Luthor
2007 Fred Claus Clyde Northcut
2008 21 Mickey Rosa
Recount Ron Klain HBO film
Telstar Major Banks post-production
2009 Shrink The Shrink filming



Year Title Other notes
2004 Beyond the Sea accompanying the release of film of same name


Year Title Other notes
1997 "That Old Black Magic" from the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil soundtrack

Live performances


External links

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