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Movi ReviewsTrigger Street

Kevin Spacey | Plate Spinner Extraordinaire
an emily blunt interview

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Bluntly speaking? Mr. Kevin Spacey seems like the type of guy you could go out to a nice restaurant with (he wouldn't wear a Metallica tee), enjoy intelligent conversation (perhaps a chat on English Gothic writers of the 18th century?) then... have rabid Rhesus monkey sex on the kitchen table for dessert!

His incredible legitimate generosity and remarkable old-fashioned charm have made him one of my favorite people. He's certainly unique. And on top of my obvious personal attraction—he can ACT! Kevinski is at once a chameleon of characters and a leading man. Spacey captures his characters; they have depth—no neon signs that scream, "Okay, I’m playing the bad guy here, okay, now I’m the good guy."

Kev went to some roles even you'd recognize. Gathered two Academy Awards, many BAFTA's, oodles of festival awards and now is a mainstay, thankfully, in film. He's an incredible actor as well as a remarkable singer, an eye-for-talent producer, precise director, warm dog lover, and one hell of a handsome generous intelligent and gregarious human that wears his crown of celebrity with honor and grace.

But The Spacemaster's not happy riding out the star waves in a fancy brownstone or oceanfront estate...he took the fame and wealth and formed a production company with a few talents he knows called Trigger Street Productions. Their goal? To bring new talent to the public, give a voice to those who maybe otherwise would still be waiting tables at Big Boy's.

This is a helluva guy folks...so as a badly edited remix of the entire collection of The Carpenter's love songs danced about in my head [for lack of really knowing one of their songs straight through] I awaited the Big Kahuna himself… my kingdom for a martini!

He's recently taken over the helm of the notoriously prestigious Old Vic in London. I decided we should start there.

Emily: Congratulations on your appointment of artistic director of the Old Vic Theater in London!

Kevin: Thank you!

Emily: So what's is your first goal as artistic director?

Kevin: It would be fund raising.

Emily: To get the roof fixed?

Kevin: No actually, I don't think we should fund raise for that…I think the arts counsel should pony up for that. We're going to be producing many plays so there's a lot of work to do between now and November…whenever it is in fall of 2004 when we begin.

[His latest soiree on film is about a fella willing to give his all for his beliefs. The Life of David Gale promises to be a controversial thriller people will be divided on. Its subject, the death penalty, actually takes a back seat to the characters. Here's what Kevin had to say. ]

Emily: Gosh. Once again in Dr. David Gale you deliver a very different character. What was it about Gale that attracted you particularly? [did I actually say gosh - this guy makes me batty I tells ya]

Kevin: I just thought it was a pretty amazing story. I thought that within it explored and improved lot ideas that were interesting and provocative and difficult to grapple with. It gave me an opportunity to sort of explore the things I haven't really had a whole lot of a chance to explore in film; on certain levels. And also I felt that when you take a picture that has a political center and you put it in the hands of a film maker like Alan Parker…I mean here's a guy who in Mississippi Burning or The Commitments or Midnight Express has managed to make the politics subversive to the characters…and to the emotional lives of the characters. That way what you wouldn't be getting was a politic you know grandstanding anti-death penalty movie.

Emily:You're right the film doesn't come off as "grandstanding."

Kevin: No it doesn't. I mean there may be some who that think it leans in a certain direction …but then I think about it and I find it's more specific in following the two characters that are against it. But I actually think that the film's message, if there is one, is decidedly more muddled than clear and difficult.

Emily: You're successfully steeped in multiple areas of entertainment - is there anything professionally you still strive for?

Kevin: Yeah! I want my Grammy! [laughter]

[Aha! Now is my chance to bring up the long delayed Bobby Darin Story Kevin's been working on for ages. I am a big Darin fan and personally can't wait.]

Emily: Maybe you'll get one with the Bobby Darin story when that comes out [she said prying the info]

Kevin: [Laughter-] I can't really talk about that.

Emily: [ Drat! Kyboshed again. Can't sue a gal for tryin' mister ] Figures…The Life of David Gale is -yes a thriller-but also so political which makes me ask is there anything politically or professionally that you would be so passionate about?

Kevin: Nope.

Emily:Really?

Kevin: I have passions. Sure. But I didn't think…. I can't see myself going as far as some of the characters in this movie go.

Emily: [we dance around plot spoilers…] This role required two very different David Gale's the easy going alcoholic Gale that babbles about Socrates…

Kevin: [laughter] The easy going alcoholic Gale [laughter]! I'll tell you how that scene happened, 'cause it wasn't in the original script…about four weeks into shooting I started to talk to Alan Parker. I felt there wasn't enough of David's philosophy. You know we had the scene in the classroom in the beginning. But I felt that by the time his life begins to unravel that was so far Kevin an Mom - A Special Dayaway from an audience's consciousness. I felt that I wanted to some how get into the movie how these philosophies, that he held very dear to his heart… how they expounded to his sentence at the beginning of the film. Coming into direct crashing conflict with the realities of his life and we both felt that it shouldn't be an academic scene if we were to do one. So we he came up with the idea of getting him drunk. We sort of outlined it faxed it off to Charles Randolph [the screenwriter] and he faxed back this scene which I kind of expounded on. Then we went out onto Sixth Street [an Austin,TX hotspot] on my last night of shooting. Most of those people weren't extras. So we had very minimal crew…we literally just showed up on Sixth Street and most of those people thought Kevin Spacey's tanked out of his mind! [laughter] You know it's one shot. No cuts in that scene!

Emily: Was it improv'd?

Kevin: Some of it was improv'd. And a lot of it was written by Charles Randolph.

Emily: And there was solemn resolved Gale driven by his beliefs. What was the difference in your preparation?

Kevin: Just trying to get into the mindset…and where he was; the emotional terrains. A lot if it was…hmm…there's a great many moments in the movie where David's alone he is gravelling with what's happening in his life and how everything that's precious to him is going away. That was really me and Alan trying to figure out, "Okay, what do we want to try and play here? What's happening in this scene?" And then for me the supreme pleasure of developing a relationship with Laura Linney!

Emily: She's just wonderful in this and everything she graces.

Kevin: Yes. She's just remarkable and wonderfully complex and intimate. It's an intense example of two people who care very much for each other.

Emily: Did you interview death penalty activists or death row inmates? Or focus more on Gale as a man father and Lacanian?

Kevin: Yeah, no it was. It was more focus of Gale - as man and father. I did meet with, well Laura and I met with and had a buffet dinner with, a woman who is a college professor of philosophy, who is also an opponent of the death penalty. But that was more about…I mean we can read books. This was more about the day- to- day life you know? What's your life? It was more about to my account, how do you balance these two things? What's your life like and how do other faculty members think? How's your administration think? You know, sort of just the nuts and bolts of it. I didn't meet any death row inmates and I didn't go to a prison because I felt ultimately that would just be an academic exercise since you never see David in his cell you never…its not a movie about the process of putting someone to death. You only see him in the interview section and you see him in the holding cell prior to an execution so there was no chance to make any of that work in the acting. Since David's mind is in a very different place, than perhaps most people on death row, it didn't feel like it was going to be a productive meeting. Alan said he went and it was kind of spooky and creepy. So I thought I'd just avoid it.

Emily: I don't blame you …do you have issue with the morality of or effectiveness of the death penalty? Is this role an actor just doing a job or does it reflect your politics?

The Purrfect Valentine Kevin SpaceyKevin: In the movie... because I have some political position on the death penalty I wanted to proselytize my point of view. Alan does have a point of view and he's made it clear that he's against it. I just thought it was a great thriller and a great movie and a great screenplay. And hey, maybe if out of drama if then people might find a way to have a conversation about some of these issues, that it isn't so polarizing, then maybe that's a good thing.

[Mr. Spacey is an enigmatic chap true…but professionally he's dabbling in many areas, each more successful than the other. Certainly there is something this genius can't do…]

Emily: You appear to have such ease in all you do. So confess! What can't Mr. Kevin Spacey do? String popcorn? Wax a floor? What?

Kevin: Mmmmaahhh. I'm sure there are movies out there that people have seen me not be good at something… and I'm sure there are many many things that I am not good at. However those things are not things that I would probably want to do in public because who needs to have people watch you do something badly. I do many things badly.

Emily: [ Now, there's a verbal tap-dance for ya kiddies! ] Your costars, Laura Linney and Kate Winslet, are the type of actors that inspire little girls want to grow up and act! Do you have any Kevin Stories from the set?

Kevin: [laughter] Those famous Kevin Stories?

Emily: Yeah, like everyone got pregnant, not by you, but semi-simultaneously on The Shipping News

Kevin: Oh…uhhhhummm. We did try to have a good time while we were shooting but this was a very intense movie to make. To some degree you use humor as a deflection. I was only there five weeks and we did the movie almost in three sections. We did Laura and myself. Then another five days with Kate. Then Kate went on and shot with Gabrielle- and they did their whole section. So it was a tense time.

Emily: The cubicle they stuck you in for the "interview in prison" scenes, did that help you get into the mindset of Gale?

Kevin: Surroundings always sort of help. You always try to adapt to the scenic design. In fact they had made the set so realistic that the window didn't come out when they had to measure…because you know they have to measure from the camera lens to the actor. And because of the glass, not only did they have to measure camera to the window but they had to come back around and do it again from the window to my face.

Emily: You mean the cinematography?

Kevin: Yeah! But I have to also say Kate was so remarkably good that at the end of six days it didn't seem like we had a pane of glass between us.

Emily: You're always working aside the finest actress' do you have a say in that?

Kevin: I don't wield magic wand. I mean I am part of the process both with the director or the studio making suggestions, and who they think is a good choice. We just got very fortunate, that the people Alan and I both felt very strongly about, that the studio concurred.

[Jack Lemmon, the great, believed in Mr. Spacey long ago. They developed a warm friendship that Kevin admitted (in a rare glimpse into his personal life) was a bond so strong Jack was like a second father.]

Emily: The great Jack Lemmon was a mentor for you…lucky lucky man… you've credited him with TriggerStreet.com's motto of, "Sending the elevator back down." Is there anything else he left you with that drives you? [ visions of my two favorite men on stage as the Tyrones started to swim about in my head…]

Kevin: Oh yeah. I think I couldn't have had a better example of somebody who handled their fame, and handled the leadership of being in a position, as the center of a movie or the center of a play, who helped to create an environment that was fun and made people very comfortable any better than I could have had in Jack. So I just try to carry that on.

Emily: [Geeze, he's a genuine Yummitini with a twist of Lemmon huh?] You too have a rep as also being a pleasure on set- is that just who you are?

Kevin: Yeah. It's not a role I'm playing, it's just who I am.

Kevin Spacey The Plate SpinnerEmily: You produce, direct, act, sing, so on and so on…you're always morphing and living life to its fullest. What motivates you; are you a classic over achiever a workaholic? Or is your big glorious blue chip mutual fund brain just required to diversify to keep from getting bored?

Kevin: [hearty laughter] That may be the funniest question I've ever been asked! [laughter] I think the answer is yes. [laughter] I enjoy very much trying to take the extraordinary good fortune that's happened to me and spread it around.
I like to spin plates. I like to delegate. I enjoy you know…Look first of all, at the end of the day what am I suppose to do with it? If ya got it ya might as well share it, 'cause there aint any use for it after that!

Emily: [ I made him giggle...you know they say the way to copulation with a fella is laughter…or is it Tequila? Okay - chickbabe focus… focus ] Still that's very rare Kevin. There are so many that say, "I'm rich, I'm famous, "F" you."

Kevin: Then they must live in little bubbles. My mother raised me right!

Emily: Anything still on your list of life accomplishments?

Kevin: Yeah there's a few things. Most of them they're…well, they're not professional. I have a lot of personal goals and things that I want to have in my life. And I think some of the decisions I've made…certainly the Old Vic is a part of a series of decisions I've made that is going to sort of keep me in one place for a time. And that's important to me after so much travel and craziness. So I'm looking forward to this new chapter.

Emily: Your first passion is theater and now with this coveted role of artistic director at the Old Vic, are you bringing anymore O'Neill's to the stage?

Kevin: Well you know other than just announcing the fact that we're doing many series…I'm going to avoid talking about titles or individuals. We have about a year and a half now to decide what directors we want to have come and do plays, what plays we want to do. Then forming a company around those plays. In the meantime there's an enormous amount of intrastructure; the minutia, the day-to-day, staffing. All that stuff. There's a lot of work to be done before we announce our season. But I am looking forward to doing a whole lot of things that make it a place we can all call our home. We'll do a diverse amount of work.

Emily: You're calling it your home…so does that mean that you'll be going with your usual habit of allowing untried talents to have a go?

Kevin: I think one of our goals, of course, will be to discover and develop undiscovered talent. Because as you know it's not so much where somebody is today it's where they'll be in five or ten years if they're nurtured and taken under the wing. You know given help to develop.

Emily: How are you finding these new talents?

Le Spacey La BooKevin: Part of what I've been doing with Trigger Street is developing enormously good relationships with writers. Particularly a whole new crop of writers. Secondly, we have a series at Old Vic called "Old Vic - New Voices" which has been enormously successful. It's a series where we do readings and stage new plays. So we've been in the process of looking for new material for a while. Some of us have known about this decision was coming. I've known for over two years this was coming. I kept it a secret till we were ready to announce it.

Emily:You've been on the board…

Kevin: I've been on the board since 98.

Emily: Iceman didn't play there did it?

Kevin: Yes. Yes it did…it was at the Almeida. It only played for eight weeks at the Almeida and when we transferred, decided to transfer the play, we brought it over to the Old Vic where it played for another sixteen weeks. So my first experience at the Old Vic was on its stage.

Emily:How did that feel?

Kevin: It is hands down my favorite theater in the entire world and the best theater I've ever played in.

Emily:Why is that? In what sense?

Kevin: Because it was made for actors. In the sense that acoustically you can stand on that stage and place the performance exactly where you want it. And you know where's it's going! Your never throwing it out to a black void…you never lose your voice. It is a remarkably well-designed theater. Even though it's over a thousand seats.

Emily: I have to ask for my Oneillians. Is there a copy of your Iceman Cometh ever coming to market?

Kevin: Nope. Not to my knowledge.

Emily:Did you video tape it?

Kevin: Nope.

Emily:That's just cruel.

Kevin: [laughter]

Emily: Well, on that sad note I finalize. Bye [sweet embraceable you…] and thanks again!

Kevin: Okay. Gotta run anyway. Buh-bye.

END

See Blunterrettes? What's not to love about this guy? Sure I'd like to explore him for a couple of undisturbed hours while a vintage vinyl of Dino's " Songs d' Amore " plays softly in the background and the fire roars feverishly ( he drives me bughouse I tell you ). But it's his honest to goodness - goodness - that is truly sexy!

O, wilt thou darkling leave me? Yes. Kevin was off on his busy way…helping others find their dreams, working hard to "one up" himself, and no doubt letting his big beautiful mind conjure up something even he didn't know he aspired to yet.



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