The untold truth of Kevin Spacey
For decades, Kevin Spacey has been one of America's most treasured actors, and he's got the Oscars and hit Netflix series to prove it. And yet, his time in the Hollywood spotlight hasn't always been so perfect. In the wake of the allegations that he sexually assaulted the actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was just 14 years old, we're taking a look back at the Spacey's life and career, from his military school days to his ever-growing scandal.
He got kicked out of military school
Born Kevin Spacey Fowler in South Orange, New Jersey, Spacey and his family quickly relocated to California when he was just a kid. In multiple interviews throughout his career, Spacey has admitted that he wasn't exactly a model child growing up. In fact, according to BBC News, he was sent to military school after he set his sister's treehouse on fire.Controversies rock Hollywood in 2017
But even that couldn't straighten him out. Per the Hollywood Reporter, Spacey was actually expelled from the school for "hurling a tire at another kid's head." Yikes.
Jack Lemmon changed his life
Speaking to PBS Newshour in 2014, Spacey said he first fell into acting after his poor behavior in the classroom led a guidance counselor to suggest that he take up some electives. One of the electives he chose was drama, where he subsequently met a teacher who recommended that he attend a workshop which was being run at the time by Oscar-winning actor Jack Lemmon. As Spacey recalled, Lemmon approached the then-13-year-old student at the end of the workshop and flat-out told him he was born to become an actor. That moment, he said, changed his life.Jazz and pop singer Keely Smith dies at 89
"To have Jack Lemmon walk up to you when you're 13 years old and put his hand on your shoulder and say, 'You are a born actor, you are meant to do this, you should go to New York and study' …. was such an extraordinary boost of confidence."
Incidentally, Spacey would go on to work with Lemmon multiple times in his career, most famously in the 1986 Broadway revival of Long Day's Journey into Night and the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.
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Speaking of Broadway: Spacey was able to carve quite a career for himself on the Great White Way, landing parts in productions ranging from Ghosts (1982) to the aforementioned Long Day's Journey Into Night (1986). This followed formal training at the prestigious Julliard School in Manhattan, for which he was convinced to audition with a little help from his friend Val Kilmer.
Spacey's peak success came in 1991 when he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers, opposite Mercedes Ruehl and Irene Worth.
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In addition to Lemmon, Spacey's career was heavily influenced by the late director Mike Nichols, who after an audition in the early '80s gave Spacey the option of either going on tour with a production of the play The Real Thing or stay in New York and be an understudy for a new play called Hurlyburly. Spacey chose the latter and, as luck would have it, got to play many of the play's characters on stage.
Around that time, NIchols also gave Spacey his first movie role in the 1986 dramedy Heartburn, opposite none other than Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.
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The turning point for Spacey's career came in 1995, when he starred in a string of successful hits ranging from Se7en to Outbreak and the film that would go on to win him his first of two Academy Awards, The Usual Suspects.
In that particular film, Spacey played the sinister character Verbal who, by the end of the movie, would help pull off one of the greatest movie twists of all time. If the role seemed like the perfect pairing of character and actor, well, that's because the part had actually been written with Spacey in mind. According to separate interviews with the film's director and screenwriter, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, Spacey got the part after he approached them at a screening of their 1993 film Public Access and said he'd love to work with them one day. "He wasn't so famous back then and we thought he'd be great, since we'd loved him in Glengarry Glen Ross," Singer told The Guardian in 2016. "There's something sly and fun about him that's perfect for a trickster mastermind like Verbal."
Added McQuarrie in a 2014 interview with Cinetropolis, "I had actually written parts for him in other scripts. So when he expressed interest, I thought, 'All right, now how do I hold him to that? How do I make a character interesting enough for a Tony Award-winning actor to want to play him?'"Ed Sheeran reveals he wrote James Bond theme three years ago
"Audiences are very smart," he continued. "If you'd put the biggest actor in the movie in the role of Verbal, the audience would be thinking, 'When is Dustin Hoffman going to stop limping?' Kevin, who is a very gifted actor, was not the guy you would expect to suddenly be the villain, especially at that stage in his career. We live in an age where villains' parts are handed to Jeremy Irons and Alan Rickman."
The Usual Suspects paved the way for even more success
Winning an Oscar for The Usual Suspects inevitably opened many doors in Hollywood for Spacey, including the chance to finally work with the director Curtis Hanson. According to a 1999 interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Spacey revealed that Hanson "had been trying for years, and years and years to get [him] cast in films he made" but the studios had always rejected him.Billionaire conservative wins Chile vote
"I got a phone call after the Academy Awards, and Curtis said, 'I think I got the role, and I think they're not going to say no this time.'"
That role: Jack Vincennes in 1997's L.A. Confidential, which would go on to win two Oscars that year.
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Success continued for Spacey in 1999 when he played Lester Burnham, a suburban father in the midst of a mid-life crisis, in the Oscar-winning American Beauty. As part of his mid-life crisis, Burnham develops a thing for smoking pot after a chance meeting with his creepy next door neighbor (played by Wes Bentley). That scene, director Sam Mendes would later reveal, might have been influenced by the actual drug on set.
"There's a scene in American Beauty where he and another character are getting stoned outside a real estate convention and there may or may not have been real pot available on that particular movie. I couldn't possibly comment," Mendes said in 2016 (via Hollywood.com).
"At one point Kevin got the giggles as you imagine might happen if somebody were to actually [have pot]," Mendes continued. "He got helpless with laughter and his eyes flicker over to the camera because he's looking for me to cut and say: 'don't giggle, it's not what I want you to do'. And I was saying: 'Keep going'. I felt it was absolutely magic and he kept going and that was absolutely the movie."Meghan’s first event: the verdict
Well, whatever the case, Spacey's performance clearly registered with audiences, enough to earn him the Academy Award for Best Actor.
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Although he had two Academy Awards to his name by early-2000, Spacey's next few years on the big screen were met with one notorious flop after the next. Among his biggest misfires included the critically maligned Pay It Forward (2000) and K-PAX (2001), as well as two Oscar hopefuls that wound up being box-office bombs, The Shipping News (2001) and The Life of David Gale (2003).Pretty Little Liars star sentenced to jail
To be fair: Spacey has on at least one occasion been open about this period of his career being, uh, not-so-great. In September 2017, when one Twitter user tweeted "Name one bad Kevin Spacey movie," the actor responded with "Edison." We haven't seen the movie; but given its 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, we are more than happy to take his word for it.
He fell back into the theater
As his movie career began to flounder, Spacey went across the pond to London, where he became the artistic director at the Old Vic theater. Although Spacey's time with the theater reportedly got off to a "mixed" start, he held the role until the fall of 2015, when he was succeeded by Matthew Warchus (Matilda; Groundhog Day). His stint was also met with high praise from his peers.Renee Zellweger hits back at Harvey Weinstein's recent claims
He found success again on the small screen
Like many actors of his era, Spacey eventually found better success on the small screen. This was especially true in 2008, when he received Emmy nominations for his performance in the HBO political drama Recount and for executive producing the Ralph Fiennes-Susan Sarandon vehicle Bernard and Doris.
Of course, those gigs proved to be the prelude to Netflix's critically acclaimed drama House of Cards, which went on to earn Spacey a Golden Globe, as well as five Emmy nominations.Spacey apologises, comes out as gay
He's dodged gay rumors for decades
The notoriously private Spacey faced rumors and questions about his sexuality for about two decades. According to E! News, Spacey took particular issue with a 1997 profile in Esquire which reportedly hinted that he was, in fact, gay. "I'm not married, and I won't talk about my private life, so it must mean I'm gay," he later told Playboy in 1999, then went on to imply that the rumors actually helped him get women. "There are a few women who think the article might be true. For them, it's a challenge," he said. "They want to be the ones to turn me around. [And] I let them." That same year, he denied he was gay in an interview with The Sunday Times.
Still, the speculation only continued. In fact, Spacey would go on to be targeted by everyone from Andy Cohen, who demanded that he "come out, sir" in his 2014 memoir, to Gawker, who in 2015 published some admittedly troubling-sounding allegations about his past sexual dalliances.Strange things about Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel's marriage
Until a scandal brought them to light
In October 2017, actor Anthony Rapp shocked everyone when he alleged to BuzzFeed that Spacey had made a sexual advance toward him when he was just 14 years old. The revelation, Rapp said, was inspired by the many women who came forward to share their stories about being sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.
The shocking interview prompted an almost immediate apology from Spacey, who also took the moment to confirm that he is indeed gay. "I know that there are other stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy," Spacey wrote. "As those closest to me know, in my life, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic relationships with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior."Country music star Troy Gentry dies in horrific crash
The awkward, if ill-advised, revelation from Spacey backfired among prominent figures in the gay community, including comedian Billy Eichner and sex advice columnist Dan Savage."Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out," Eichner wrote on Twitter. Added Savage, "Nope to Kevin Spacey's statement. Nope. There's no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child.