Kevin Spacey was born in South Orange, New Jersey to Thomas
Geoffrey Fowler, a technical writer, and Kathleen Spacey, a
personal secretary; he has two older siblings, a sister and a
brother, Randy. Kevin's father, who has been alleged by Fox News
to have been a member of the American Nazi Party, was often
unemployed, causing the family to move frequently, eventually
settling in Southern California in 1963. Spacey attended
Northridge Military Academy, but was asked to leave, and
subsequently attended Chatsworth High School, a school that was
renowned for its drama department, in Chatsworth, California. In
the twelfth grade, he starred in the school's senior production
of The Sound of Music, playing the part of Captain Georg von
Trapp, opposite Maria (played by Mare Winningham). While in high
school, he took his mother's maiden name, "Spacey" (originally a
Welsh name, belonging to his great-great-grandfather, spelled "Spacy"),
as his acting surname. Several reports have incorrectly
suggested that he took the name in tribute to actor Spencer
Tracy, combining Tracy's first and last names.
Kevin Spacey had tried to succeed as a stand-up comedian for several years, before attending the Juilliard School in New York City, where he studied drama, between 1979 and 1981. During this time period, Spacey performed stand-up comedy in bowling alley talent contests.
Spacey's first professional stage appearance was as a messenger in a New York Shakespeare Festival performance of Henry VI, part 1 in 1981. The following year he made his first Broadway appearance in a production of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts. 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 a well known theatre actor.
Some of Spacey's earlier roles include the made-for-television film The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder-starring comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). Spacey earned an avid fan 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 put-upon office manager in the all-star ensemble film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), gaining him positive notices by critics.
In 1995, Kevin Spacey played a serial killer in Se7en who murders people he thinks guilty of the seven deadly sins, and the enigmatic criminal Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects. His role in The Usual Suspects launched him to A-list status and won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1996, he played an egomaniacal district attorney in A Time to Kill, and founded Trigger Street Productions in 1997 with the purpose of producing and developing entertainment across various media.
Kevin won universal praise and a Best Actor Oscar for his role as a depressed suburban father who re-evaluates his life in 1999's American Beauty; the same year, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During the several years following American Beauty's release, Spacey appeared in films that he believes "hadn't done as well critically or in terms of box office". He played a physically and emotionally scarred grade school teacher in Pay It Forward, a patient in a mental institution who may or may not be an alien in K-Pax, and singer Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea. Beyond The Sea was a lifelong dream project for Spacey, who took on co-writing, directing, and starring duties in the biography/musical about Darin's life, career, and relationship with late actress Sandra Dee. Spacey provided his own vocals on the Beyond the Sea soundtrack and appeared in several tribute concerts around the time of the film's release. He received mostly positive reviews for his singing, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. However, some reviewers criticized the age disparity between Spacey and Darin, noting that Spacey was too old to convincingly portray him. Spacey has noted that despite the criticism, he is still proud of the film.
In February 2003, Kevin Spacey announced that he was moving to London, England, to become the artistic director of the Old Vic, one of the city's oldest theatres. Spacey directed the new Old Vic Theatre Company, which stages shows eight months out of the year, starting in 2004. Spacey starred in two shows a season, in addition to directorial duties. During the 2004-05 season, Spacey directed a performance of the play Cloaca by Maria Goos, and performed in productions of National Anthems by Dennis McIntyre, as well in The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry. During the 2005-06 season, Spacey performed in the title role of Richard II (directed by Trevor Nunn). He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by London South Bank University in November 2005. Spacey has noted that he is "having the time of his life" working at the Old Vic, and explained that at this point in his career, he feels that he is "trying to do things now that are much bigger than myself and outside of myself".
Kevin Spacey hosted the season finale of Saturday Night Live
on May 20, 2006. He participated in six sketches, including
playing the roles of a detective, a falconer, and Neil Young. He
also starred in a sketch with Andy Samberg, spoofing The Usual
Spacey's most recent film role is as the villainous Lex Luthor in the Bryan Singer-directed superhero film, Superman Returns. The film opened on June 28, 2006. Spacey also appears in Edison Force (originally titled Edison), co-starring Morgan Freeman and Justin Timberlake; Edison Force will receive a direct-to-video release on July 18, 2006.
Kevin Spacey's s--ual orientation has been the subject of discussion in the media. In the run-up to the 1999 Academy Awards, Spacey gave an interview to Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes on CBS in which he categorically refused to discuss his s--ual orientation. Soon after winning the Academy Award for American Beauty, the tabloid The Star printed a collection of photos that allegedly proved Spacey's homos--uality. In January 2006 The Daily Mirror, a British tabloid newspaper, reported that a high school program dedicated to fighting homophobia listed Spacey among a list of famous homos--uals. The program's leader, Paul Patrick, apologized and called the listing a "mistake" and announced that Spacey's name would be edited out.
In August of 2004, while living in London, Kevin reported to local police that he had been mugged by a young man in a park at approximately 4:30 A.M. Several hours later, he withdrew the statement and apologized to the police, explaining that he had been conned into giving his mobile phone to a youth who had then run away with it, and that his bruises were the result of tripping over his dog while giving chase. The police accepted Spacey's new version of events and did not press charges.
Kevin Spacey is a personal friend of former President Bill Clinton, having met Clinton before his presidency began. Spacey has described Clinton as "one of the shining lights" of the political process. According to Federal Election Commission data, Spacey has contributed $42,000 to Democratic candidates and committees.
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