KEVIN SPACEY is being tipped for an Oscar for American Beauty. He tells The List how playing a man undergoing a

mid-life crisis changed his own life.

Words: Miles Fielder

If Kevin Spacey gets the Best Actor Oscar for for his performance in American Beauty (and his Golden Globe Awards nomination suggests he will). it‘ll join the one he already has for The Usual .S'uspects. Since that Oscar win. Spacey‘s film career has soared with choice roles in some of the seminal films of the 90s. including Seven and LA. Confidential. So. what about those Oscars?

‘The first Oscar so far the only Oscar.~ laughs Spacey. ‘was an extraordinarily surprising event. The award changed how I was viewed and it certainly gave me a lot more opportunities. I‘ve tried to honour it in my choice of movies since then. I

_ think American Beauty is an

example of the kind of filmmaking I always dreamed movies could be.‘

In American Beauty. Spacey plays Lester Burnham. a father and husband who‘s comfortable but dull suburban life has been going the way of that

; famous middle-aged deadbeat. Death Of A

Salesman's Willy Loman. Burnham. however. begins to change his life. He quits his job. scores marijuana off the kid who lives next door. digs out his old rock albums and starts working out. All of which teenage activity provides him with two things he hasn't had in years: pleasure and happiness.

22 THE lIST 20 Jan-3 ieb 2000

'I was perceived as an actor who only did dark, mysterious, disturbed roles.’ Kevin Spacey

Liberated: Kevin Spacey

‘I met Lester at exact] the erfect moment for i . y p . Hollywood during World War II who

me.‘ recalls Spacey. ‘because I was experiencing my own sense of wanting to break out and try out new kinds of roles. With the great good fortune of having done films like The Usual Suspects. I nevertheless recognised there was baggage that came with them. I was perceived as an actor who only did dark. mysterious. disturbed roles. Often in the film industry people like you the way they discovered you. so sometimes it takes a while to move in a new direction. With L.A. Confidential. I began to play parts that were far closer to my own experience or

Rough cuts

Lights, camera, action. . .

THE ACADEMY AWARDS are once more rapidly approaching.

Regardless of whether you're a film buff, star spotter or normal person,

everyone gets to hear about the most glamorous display of rampant egotism in the film business. You may have found Whoopi Goldberg's presentation of the Oscars ceremony embarrassingly unfunny, or Gwyneth Paltrow’s tearful acceptance speech sick-making, but, hey, there’s no business like

showbusiness. The 72nd edition of

the Oscars is coming your way on 26 March.

We won't know who's in the running until the Academy Awards nominations are announced on 15 February, but always a good indication of who'll receive a golden

statuette is another Hollywood

awards institution, the Golden

Globe Awards. What’s that? An

awards ceremony set up to rival the Oscars, founded in 1943 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Who they? Originally, non-American journalists working in

i pooled resources to deliver showbiz

news to their home countries. Presented on 23 January, the

. nominations are already in place.

American Beauty tops the list with

six nominations including Kevin Spacey for Best Actor put your

money on him. Other hot potatoes

; include: Neil Jordan's Graham ; Greene adaptation, The End Of The Affair; The Hurricane, in which

parts that i used to play in theatre [where Spacey has i ' imprisoned for a murder he didn't

? commit; Michael Mann’s The Insider, 3 for which the scoop is Russell Crowe i for Best Actor; and Anthony

- Minghella's adaptation of Patricia

Highsmith’s literary murderer, The

I Talented Mr Ripley. Outside bets?

picked up Tony awards and nominations for Neil Simon's Lost In Yonkers and last year’s acclaimed revivial of Eugene O’Neill's The Iceman Comethl. characters that were much more ambiguous. So with American Beauty, the sense of liberation was real to me.’

It’s fair to say that American Beauty is one of the increasingly few intelligent films to come out of Hollywood. It’s also a film that’s found commercial as well as critical success. ‘Hollywood isn’t dictated by trends. it‘s dictated by money,’ suggests Spacey. ‘lf

films like this make money, they’ll make more of ;

them. It‘s an honest, mature examination of two families. In hindsight I can see why the film has struck such a chord with many people. I saw Lester to be reclaiming his life. Even if the experiences that the characters of the film go through are completely remote from your own, what is true is that people have recognised that the emotional terrain.’ Spacey will find out in March whether or not the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have recognised his performance as Oscar

worthy. Meanwhile, UK cinema audiences can test out American Beauty’s emotional terrain for


American Beauty opens Fri 4 Feb. See review next issue.

Denzel Washington plays the boxer

Hilary Swank for her cross-dressing performance in the true-life crime drama, Boys Don’t Cry; Richard Farnsworth for The Straight Story; or Reese Witherspoon for Election and Jim Carrey for his impersonation of the American comedian Andy Kaufman in Man On The Moon because comedy always gets overlooked in the Oscars. Or how about Sharon Stone for The Muse? (Just joking.)

Here's the story of . . . :The Hurricane