FEATURE KEVIN SPACEY
Since his Oscar—winning role in The Usual .S‘nspeers. Kevin Spacey has become one of Hollywood’s more unusual darlings. Anwar Brett speaks to him about his recent success and his latest movie .S‘ivim/ning
or too many years Kevin Spacey was the American theatre‘s best kept secret. only briefly deserting his first love for an occasional flirtation with the cinema. But just as so many actors before him trod the path from Broadway to Hollywood. so this quietly spoken 37-year-old New Jersey-born actor has suddenly found himself more in demand for film work than ever before.
This might have something to do with his highly popular Oscar win as Best Supporting Actor for his riveting performance in The Usual Suspects. but over the brief ten-year span of his career. he has delivered a succession of dazzling. charming. chilling characterisations in a varied selection of films.
He made his screen debut in Mike Nichols‘s Heartburn. rapidly followed by Rocket Gibraltar. ll’orking Girl. Dad. See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Henry And June. But the roles were small and. while a couple offered eye-catching moments. Spacey decided that his softly-softly approach to the big screen needed to be reassessed.
‘When you‘re starting out.‘ he admits, ‘the reason you take the small roles is that. of course. they‘re not offering you the big roles. but you also want to work with a certain director. That‘s why I worked on some of the early films I did. The reason you want to work with a director is to have some sort of
‘lt’s not unusual that stage actors who create roles don’t get the chance to re- create tilms, generally because they don’t have tllm careers.’
relationship with them. but because you‘re playing someone so peripheral to the story. that relationship can‘t exist because you’re not working enough.
‘One of the reasons that they’ve hired you is that they think you can take care of it. they don‘t have to worry about you and can concentrate on their three or four major characters in the story. I went back to the theatre. which is always my answer. and did Lost In Yonkers on Broadway.‘
Spacey‘s cinema comeback could scarcely have been more impressive. Cast as the wily. slimy. taciturn office manager in Glengarry Glen Ross. he got a chance to star in a superb
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ensemble led by Al Pacino. ‘Al saw me in the play and dragged [director] James liolcy to see it the following week.‘ says Spacey. ‘llc said. “I think he‘d tnake a good asshole. don‘t you'."“ (‘ast as ‘the asshole‘. Spacey held his own in exalted company. Slowly he was beginning to be noticed by critics. filmgoers and casting directors. Director Alan l’akula cast him as a demonic neighbour in the patchy ('onsenting Adults. before he took on roles in the little seen family adventure Iron Hill and the under- appreciatcd black comedy Hostile Hostages. Yet one senses that the relative success or failure of the projects in which he has been involved seems to be less of an immediate concern to Spacey than to some other actors. He takes the pragmatic view that on film you surrender control for a large part of your
performance to the director and editor. so why complain?
Having stolen the show from his flashier co- stars in The l'sual Sits/reels. before going on to play a stunning cameo in Seven. Spacey‘s current portrayal of a venal Hollywood producer in .S‘ii'imining Hit/I Sharks not only sets the tone for a highly enjoyable. low budget movie but shows the clout that he now commands — for this film would not have been tnade without him. So with 'l‘inseltown in his grasp. he is currently taking the opportunity to direct his first feature.
It is — as Kevin (‘ostneiz .\lcl (iibson. (‘lint Iiastwood. Woody Allen et a/ will testify — one way of maintaining the ttnity of an actor‘s Yet when an actor announces his intention to direct. the first reaction from the Hollywood listablishtncnt is usually accotnpanicd by a sneer. ignoring the fact that. iii the theatre. actors typically direct other actors. Perhaps for Spacey the motives run a little deeper.
‘When the film version of Lost In Yonkers was made. they neverconsidered me fora role.‘ he recalls dcjectedly. ‘I never saw the film. so for me it was like another production that was done that I wasn‘t part of. And anyway. no actor owns a role. bttt that was a wonderful part and l felt privileged to have played it.
"l'here are many cases like that: I‘ve had scripts written for me that ended tip with someone else. It‘s not unusual that stage actors who create roles don‘t get the chance to re- create films. generally becattsc they don‘t have film careers 4— which is why I've been trying to have a film career. so that in the future I‘m never going to be in a play where I won‘t at least be considered for the movie version.‘
.S'ivirn/ning ll'iih Sharks will open in Scotland at a (late lo he eon/irmeil anrl is reviewed on page 32.
Kevin Spacey: holding Hollywood in hls grasp