Kevin Spacey: This biography documents the Life and Career of Actor, Kevin Spacey.
|Kevin Spacey in 2013|
|Born||Kevin Spacey Fowler|
July 26, 1959 (age 60)
South Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
|Residence||Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.|
Kevin Spacey Fowler KBE (born July 26, 1959) is an American actor, producer, and singer. Spacey began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s, obtaining supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in the 1990s that culminated in his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the neo-noir crime thriller The Usual Suspects (1995) and an Academy Award for Best Actor for the midlife crisis-themed drama American Beauty (1999).
Spacey’s other starring roles have included the comedy-drama film Swimming with Sharks (1994), the psychological thriller Seven (1995), the neo-noir crime film L.A. Confidential (1997), the drama Pay It Forward (2000), the science fiction-mystery film K-PAX (2001), the musical biopic Beyond the Sea (2004), the superhero film Superman Returns (2006), and the action film Baby Driver (2017).
In Broadway theatre, Spacey won a Tony Award in 1991 for his role in Lost in Yonkers. In 2017, he hosted the 71st Tony Awards. He was the artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London from 2004 until stepping down in mid-2015. From 2013 to 2017, he played Frank Underwood in the Netflix political drama series House of Cards, which won him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama and two consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.
In October 2017, actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making a sexual advance toward him in 1986, when Rapp was 14. Numerous other men subsequently came forward alleging that Spacey had sexually harassed or assaulted them. In December 2018, Spacey was charged with indecent assault and battery in relation to an accusation by anchorwoman Heather Unruh that he sexually assaulted her 18-year-old son, but by July 2019, the criminal charge had been dropped.
As a result of the allegations, Netflix cut ties with Spacey, shelving his film Gore and removing him from the last season of House of Cards. Spacey’s role as J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott‘s film All the Money in the World (2017) was reshot with actor Christopher Plummer in his place. The next year, Spacey appeared in Billionaire Boys Club with his role unchanged.
- 1Early life
- 3Other works
- 4Political views and activism
- 5Personal life
- 6Sexual misconduct allegations
- 8See also
- 10External links
Kevin Spacey Fowler was born in South Orange, New Jersey, to Kathleen Ann (née Knutson), a secretary, and Thomas Geoffrey Fowler, a technical writer and data consultant. Spacey has an older brother, Randy Fowler, who is a limousine driver and Rod Stewart impersonator in Boise, Idaho, and a sister, Julie Ann Fowler Keir, an office worker. His family relocated to Southern California when he was four years old. Randy Fowler (from whom Spacey is estranged) has stated that their father, whom he described as a racist “Nazi supporter”, was sexually and physically abusive, and that Spacey had shut down emotionally and become “very sly and smart” to avoid whippings.
Spacey attended Northridge Military Academy, Canoga Park High School in the 10th and 11th grades. He graduated co-valedictorian (along with Mare Winningham) of the class of 1977 of Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, California. At Chatsworth, Spacey starred in the school’s senior production of The Sound of Music, playing the part of Captain Georg von Trapp, with Winningham as Maria von Trapp. He started using his middle name “Spacey”, which is also his paternal grandmother’s maiden name.
Spacey had tried to succeed as a comedian for several years before attending the Juilliard School in New York City, as a member of Group 12, where he studied drama with teacher Marian Seldes between 1979 and 1981. During this time period, he 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, Spacey 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, Spacey appeared in a production of Sleuth in a New Jersey dinner theatre.
Spacey’s 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 and was invited, along with Spacey’s high school drama teacher, to be present when Spacey received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999. Spacey 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 comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). He earned a fan base after playing the criminally insane arms dealer Mel Profitt on the television series Wiseguy. Spacey quickly developed a reputation as a character actor, and was cast in bigger roles, including the malevolent office manager in the ensemble film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), one-half of a bickering Connecticut couple in the dark comedy film The Ref (1994), and a malicious Hollywood studio boss in the satire Swimming with Sharks (1995), gaining him positive notices by critics. Spacey’s performance as the enigmatic criminal Verbal Kint in Bryan Singer‘s 1995 neo-noir film The Usual Suspects won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Spacey appeared in the 1995 thriller Seven, 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. 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. Spacey made his directorial debut with the film Albino Alligator (1996). The film was a box office bomb, grossing $339,379 with a budget of $6 million, but critics praised Spacey’s direction. He also voiced Hopper in the animated film A Bug’s Life (1998).
Throughout his career, Spacey has been well known for playing villains; 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’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, laid in 1999
Spacey won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as a depressed suburban father who lusts after his teenage daughter’s best friend in 1999’s American Beauty;[dead link] 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.
Spacey 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). The latter 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 U.S., Spacey went to the United Kingdom and Germany for funding. Almost all of the film was made in Berlin. Spacey provided his own vocals on the film’s soundtrack and appeared in several tribute concerts around the time of its release. Spacey 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 at the San Diego Comic-Con 2008
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 superhero film Superman Returns. He was to return for its 2009 sequel, but the series was instead rebooted with the 2013 film Man of Steel. Spacey also appeared in Edison, which received a direct-to-video release in 2006.
In 2008, Spacey played an MIT lecturer in the film 21. 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, becoming the first Hollywood actor to star in a fully Chinese-funded film.
In September 2006, Spacey said that he intended to take up British citizenship when it is offered to him. When asked about the UK’s 2016 European Union membership referendum, Spacey replied, “I appreciate you asking me the question, but I am not a British citizen, I am a resident of Great Britain. And I have never in my twelve years ever gotten involved in politics in Great Britain. I think it’s inappropriate for me as a, really as a guest, in Great Britain, so I’ll leave that to the British people.” On June 16, 2016, Spacey was awarded an honorary knighthood for his services to theatre. The honor, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, was given at Clarence House by Prince Charles. While Spacey will be permitted to add the post-nominal letters, KBE, to his name, as a non-British citizen the award is honorary and he will not be able to style himself as “Sir Kevin”. Spacey had previously been awarded the lesser rank of honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to drama in 2010.
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) Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Johnny Carson, Katharine Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, John Gielgud, Marlon Brando, Christopher Walken, and Al Pacino. As a young actor in New York City, he used his skill to pretend to be Carson’s son to obtain free theater tickets and enter Studio 54.
Capitol/EMI‘s album Forever Cool (2007) features two duets with Spacey and an earlier recording of Dean Martin: “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and “King of the Road”. In December 2007, Spacey co-hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert along with Uma Thurman.
Spacey is a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres. He also sits on the board of directors of the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
On March 18, 2011, it was announced that Spacey was cast as Frank Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards, adapted from a 1990 BBC political drama of the same name. He was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013, becoming the first lead actor to be Primetime Emmy-nominated from a web television series. Spacey went on to win the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards for his season 2 performance.
In July 2011, Spacey co-starred in the black comedy film Horrible Bosses, which grossed over $209.6 million at the box office. He executive produced the biographical survival thriller film Captain Phillips in 2013, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Spacey portrayed the antagonist Jonathan Irons in the 2014 video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare through motion capture. He starred as President Richard Nixon in the comedy-drama Elvis & Nixon (2016), which is based on the meeting that took place between Nixon and singer Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) in December 1970 wherein Presley requested Nixon swear him in as an undercover agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. He next starred in the comedy film Nine Lives, as a man trapped in the body of a cat. The film was released on August 5, 2016.
In March 2017, it was announced that Spacey would portray J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott‘s All the Money in the World. He shot his role in the film in ten days over the summer of 2017. However, due to the sexual assault allegations against Spacey, it was announced on November 8, 2017 that all of his footage would be excised, and that Christopher Plummer would replace Spacey as Getty in reshoots. In spite of the very tight schedule, TriStar Pictures completed the new version of the film in time for a December 25 release.
Spacey appeared in the film Billionaire Boys Club, which had a limited release on August 17, 2018. Vertical Entertainment stated that they would be taking no action to remove Spacey from the film, as it had been completed in late 2016, prior to the allegations made in October 2017.
“We don’t condone sexual harassment on any level and we fully support victims of it. At the same time, this is neither an easy nor insensitive decision to release this film in theatres, but we believe in giving the cast, as well as hundreds of crew members who worked hard on the film, the chance to see their final product reach audiences.”— Vertical Entertainment on their decision to release the film without any cuts or changes
Artistic director of the Old Vic
Spacey at the Berlin Film Festival 2011
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, Spacey promised both to appear on stage and to bring in big-name talent. He undertook to remain in the post for a full ten years. The Old Vic Theatre Company staged 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 that point in his career, he said, he was “trying to do things now that are much bigger and outside [myself]”. Spacey 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 Matthew Modine and future House of Cards co-star Neve Campbell) 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 2009, he directed the premiere of Joe Sutton‘s Complicit, with Richard Dreyfuss, David Suchet and Elizabeth McGovern. Later that year, 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. Sam Mendes directed Spacey in Shakespeare’s Richard III; Spacey played the title role. The show began in June 2011, commencing a worldwide tour culminating in New York in early 2012. In March 2014, it was announced that Spacey would star in a one-man play at the Old Vic to celebrate his ten years as artistic director. He took on the part of Clarence Darrow in the play.
Withdrawn chairmanship of Relativity Media
In January 2016 it was announced that Relativity Media, which was just emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, had acquired Trigger Street Productions and that Spacey would become chairman of Relativity Studios while Dana Brunetti would become the studio’s president. Spacey called the move “an incredible opportunity to make great entertainment” and said he considered it the “next evolution in my career”. However, when the paperwork for the studio was filed for the court, it emerged that Spacey had opted out of assuming the chairmanship of the studios, and by the end of 2016 Brunetti had also left Relativity whilst both remained executive producers on House of Cards and Manifesto.
Political views and activism
Spacey speaks during the Clinton Global Citizen Awards.
Spacey’s political views have been described as left-leaning and mirroring some of those possessed by his fictional character in House of Cards. He is a Democrat and a friend of President Bill Clinton, having met Clinton before his presidency began. Spacey once described Clinton as “one of a shining light” in the political process. 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 2000 White House Correspondents Dinner.
Spacey met Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in September 2007, but never spoke to the press about their encounter. During the trip, he donated money to the Venezuelan film studio Villa del Cine. In March 2011, following Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko‘s crackdown on the Belarusian democracy movement, Spacey joined Jude Law in a street protest in London against Lukashenko’s regime.
In October 2008, Spacey started the Kevin Spacey Foundation in the UK to encourage youth involvement in the arts. Headquartered in England and Wales, its purpose was to provide grants to individuals and organizations to help young people study the arts, particularly theatre. The charity shut down in February 2018 following sexual misconduct allegations against Spacey.
In 2018, Earl Blue, owner of the security company VIP Protective Services, claimed that Spacey had used racial slurs against his predominantly African-American staff when they were hired on the House of Cards set in 2012, before getting Blue fired.
An article in The Sunday Times Magazine in 1999 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 Esquire magazine asserting two years ago that he must be gay“. Spacey responded to the rumors 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.
In 1999, reports suggested Spacey was dating a script supervisor named Dianne Dreyer, with their relationship possibly dating back as far as 1992. In 2000, Spacey brought Dreyer to the Academy Awards; during the acceptance speech for his Best Actor award, Spacey stated, “Dianne, thank you for teaching me about caring about the right things, and I love you.”
In 2007, Gotham magazine quoted Spacey saying:
I’ve never believed in pimping my personal life out for publicity. Although I might be interested in doing it, I will never do it. People can gossip all they want; they can speculate all they want. I just happened to believe that there’s a separation between the public life and the private life. Everybody has the right to a private life no matter what their professions are.
Coming out controversy
In October 2017, Spacey came out as gay when he apologized to Rapp for the alleged sexual advance in 1986. Spacey said, “I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man.” His decision to come out via his statement was criticized by prominent members of the gay community, including Billy Eichner, George Takei, and Wanda Sykes, as an attempt to change the subject and shift focus from Rapp’s accusation, for using his own drunkenness as an excuse for making sexual advances to a minor, and for implying a connection between being gay and sexually assaulting a minor.
Sexual misconduct allegations
See also: Weinstein effect
On October 29, 2017, actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey, while appearing intoxicated, made a sexual advance toward him in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. Rapp had also shared this story in a 2001 interview with The Advocate, but Spacey’s name was redacted from publication to avoid legal disputes and public outing. Spacey stated through Twitter that he did not remember the encounter, but that he owed Rapp “the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior” if he had behaved as asserted.
Fifteen others then came forward alleging similar abuse, including Boston anchorwoman Heather Unruh, who alleged that Spacey sexually assaulted her son; Norwegian author and former royal family member Ari Behn; filmmaker Tony Montana; actor Roberto Cavazos; Richard Dreyfuss‘ son Harry; and eight people who worked on House of Cards. The Guardian was contacted by “a number of people” who alleged that Spacey “groped and behaved in an inappropriate way with young men” as artistic director of the Old Vic. On November 16, the Old Vic confirmed that it had received 20 testimonies of alleged inappropriate behavior by Spacey, with three persons stating that they had contacted the police. In December, Spacey’s Usual Suspects co-star Gabriel Byrne revealed that production on that film was shut down for two days because Spacey made unwanted sexual advances toward a younger actor.
In the midst of the allegations, filming was suspended on the sixth and final season of House of Cards. Media Rights Capital (MRC), the production company behind the show, stated that it had implemented “an anonymous complaint hotline, crisis counselors, and sexual harassment legal advisors for the crew.” MRC added that in 2012, “someone on the crew shared a complaint about a specific remark and gesture made by Kevin Spacey. Immediate action was taken following our review of the situation and we are confident the issue was resolved promptly to the satisfaction of all involved.” According to MRC, Spacey “willingly participated in a training process and since that time MRC has not been made aware of any other complaints” involving him. The show had been due to end in 2018. The season was shortened from 13 episodes to eight, and Spacey was removed from the cast and his role as executive producer. The Gore Vidal biopic Gore starring Spacey, which was set to be distributed by Netflix, was canceled, and Netflix went on to sever all ties with him. Spacey was due to appear in All the Money in the World as industrialist J. Paul Getty; however, his scenes were cut and Christopher Plummer replaced him as Getty in reshoots. The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences reversed its decision to honor Spacey with the 2017 International Emmy Founders Award.
On November 1, 2017, Spacey stated that he would be seeking “evaluation and treatment” for his behavior. The following day, Variety reported that his publicist Staci Wolfe and talent agency Creative Artists Agency were ending their relationships with him.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office stated in April 2018 that it would investigate an allegation that Spacey had sexually assaulted an adult male in 1992. In July 2018, three more allegations of sexual assault against Spacey were revealed by Scotland Yard, bringing the total number of open investigations in the UK to six. In September 2018, a lawsuit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court claimed that Spacey sexually assaulted an unnamed masseur at a house in Malibu, California, in October 2016.
On December 24, 2018, Spacey uploaded a YouTube video entitled “Let Me Be Frank”. In the video, Spacey – while in character as Frank Underwood, the role he had portrayed in House of Cards – appeared to deny the real-life allegations against him. The video has been described in the media as “bizarre”, “extraordinarily odd”, “unsettling”, and “alarming”. Several actors, including Rapp, Alyssa Milano, Patricia and Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, and Rob Lowe, criticized and ridiculed the video on Twitter. As of July 2019, the video has over 11 million views, with 258,000 likes and 69,000 dislikes.
Sexual assault trial and lawsuit
In December 2018, Spacey was charged with a felony for allegedly sexually assaulting journalist Heather Unruh’s 18-year-old son in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in July 2016. Spacey pleaded not guilty to the charge on January 7, 2019. Unruh’s son told police he was texting with his girlfriend throughout the alleged “groping” incident. Spacey’s defense attorneys spent months trying to obtain copies of the texts and the phone itself. In mid-May 2019, her son’s personal attorney informed the court that the cell phone in question is “missing”. On June 4, 2019, the defense learned that when Unruh gave her son’s cell phone to police in 2017, she admitted she had deleted some of the text messages. Later that month, her son filed a lawsuit against Spacey, claiming emotional damages. On July 5, 2019, he voluntarily dismissed the claims with prejudice.
On July 17, 2019, the criminal assault charge against Spacey was dropped by the Cape and Islands prosecutors. Also, the anonymous massage therapist who accused him died of cancer and the last criminal case against the actor was closed.
- “Mind Games” – Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words and Music – October 2, 2001, Radio City Music Hall
- List of actors with Academy Award nominations
- List of actors with two or more Academy Awards in acting categories
- List of actors with two or more Academy Award nominations in acting categories
- List of LGBT Academy Award winners and nominees
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