About Kevin Spacey
An actor whose remarkable versatility has often been described as chameleon-like, Kevin Spacey has made an art of portraying a gallery of morally ambiguous characters ranging from the mildly shady to the all-out murderous. His reputation as one of the best-respected actors of his generation was bolstered by an Oscar, a Tony, and an award as Best Actor of the Decade from England's Empire magazine in 1999.
Born July 26, 1959 in South Orange, NJ, Spacey was raised from an early age in and around Los Angeles by his father, Thomas, an oft-unemployed technical writer, and his mother, Kathleen, a secretary. He has two older siblings: a sister, Julie, and a brother, Randy.
Though his parents were strict, Spacey was rebellious; even destructive - he burned down his sister's tree house in the backyard of his family's Malibu home and was later expelled from the Northridge Military Academy for hitting a fellow student with a tire. He moved on to Chatsworth High School, where he discovered theater and acted alongside fellow classmate and future actors, Val Kilmer and Mare Winningham. After graduating, he tried his hand at stand-up comedy, even trying out for The Gong Show, but failed to make the cut. He then followed Kilmer to the dramatic program at the Julliard School in Manhattan, where he managed to stick around for only two of the required four years. Spacey occasionally landed small roles on small stages, while working as a shoe salesman and a building superintendent to pay the bills. At the beginning Spacey's career was decidedly hard-fought.
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, it was David Rabe's Hurlyburly where he rotated through each of the male parts (he would later play Mickey in the screen version too). Next came Anton Chekhov's The Seagull and a period, in 1986, performing Sleuth in a New Jersey dinner theatre.
But his prominence as a stage actor really 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. He 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 earlier roles include a widowed eccentric millionaire on L.A. Law, the made-for-television film The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988), opposite Jack Lemmon, and the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder–starring comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). Spacey earned an avid fan base following, after playing the criminally insane arms dealer Mel Profitt on the television series Wiseguy.
He quickly developed a reputation as a character actor, and was cast in bigger roles, including one-half of the bickering Connecticut couple in the dark comedy The Ref (1994), a malicious Hollywood studio boss in the satire Swimming with Sharks, and the malevolent office manager in the all-star ensemble film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), gaining him positive notices by critics.
During the 1990s The Usual Suspects(1995) and Se7en (1995) catapulted him into international stardom. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Usual Suspects. Later films include LA Confidential (1997), American Beauty (1999, Oscar), The Shipping News (2001), The Life of David Gale (2002), and Superman Returns (2006). He starred as singer Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea (2004), also producing, directing, and co-writing the film.
In 2008, he played an MIT lecturer in the film 21, along with Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, and Jim Sturgess. 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 January 2009, he directed the premiere of Joe Sutton's Complicit, with Richard Dreyfuss, David Suchet and Elizabeth McGovern. This was followed by the revival of Inherit The Wind directed by Trevor Nunn. Based on a true story of a teacher arrested for teaching his students evolution also known as the "Scopes Monkey Trial," Spacey played defense lawyer Henry Drummond, a role that was made famous by actorSpencer Tracy in the 1960 film of the same name.
He is a well respected theatre actor in both the USA and England, notable roles including those in Lost in Yonkers (1991) and The Iceman Cometh (1998). In 2003 he was appointed artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre, London, and also starred in the company's productions of The Philadelphia Story (2005) and A Moon for the Misbegotten (2006).
On November 3, 2010 he was invested as an honorary CBE by Prince Charles at Clarence House, on behalf of the Queen, for services to drama
Spacey has never married and staunchly protects his private life. This has generated rumors regarding his sexual orientation. He has stated that he is not gay in the October 1999 issue of Playboy, in The Sunday Times Magazine (December 19, 1999) and in the May 2007 issue of Gotham Magazine.