"I don't categorize characters into one syllable. These are fully-rounded characters that I don't judge; I just play them." -- Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey is an American actor who is acclaimed for his work on stage and screen. He first gained critical acclaim for his role in the 1990’s film The Usual Suspects, and now he stars in the Netflix political drama House of Cards. Below are 50 unusual facts about this talented actor.
Kevin Spacey Facts
1. The Little Hellion
When Kevin Spacey was younger, he burnt down his sister’s tree-house. This led his parents to send him to military school.
2. Get Out!
Spacey attended military school for grades 10 and 11, but he was expelled after hitting a classmate with a tire.
3. The Studious One
After military school, Kevin Spacey attended Chatsworth High School in Los Angeles where he was selected class valedictorian.
4. The Sound of Spacey
Kevin Spacey played Captain von Trapp in his high school’s production of The Sound of Music. In 1996, when he was nominated for his first Oscar, his co-star from the show, Mare Winningham, sent him a telegram that read, “Captain von Trapp - congratulations on your nomination."
5. A Ringing Rejection
In the late 1970s, Kevin Spacey unsuccessfully auditioned for The Gong Show. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, he revealed that he was “pre-gonged” for his Johnny Carson impression.
6. He Does a Mean Jimmy Stewart
At one point in his career, Kevin Spacey wanted to be a stand-up comedian, and worked on celebrity impressions to try out on the amateur comedy-club circuit. His impression of Jimmy Stewart is so good that it brought Carol Burnett to tears when they both appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
7. Early Career Advice
Val Kilmer and Kevin Spacey were classmates at Chatsworth, and Val Kilmer advised Spacey to drop out of college and follow in his footsteps to attend Julliard’s drama program in New York.
8. It’s a Family Name
Spacey is Kevin’s middle name, and his mother’s maiden name. It’s not a truncated version of Spencer Tracey as some people suspected. His full name is Kevin Spacey Fowler.
9. Man of Mystery
Kevin Spacey is known for keeping his private life private. He told the London Evening Standard: “The less you know about me, the easier it is to convince you that I am that character on screen. It allows an audience to come into a movie theater and believe I am that person.”
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10. British is Better
Kevin Spacey lives in London, England and once confessed that he’d really like to become a British Citizen. In 2010, Prince Charles named him an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his acting work.
11. A Presidential Pal
Bill Clinton has been one of Kevin Spacey’s friends since before he was president. Spacey once called him “one of the shining lights” of the political process.”
12. Helping Actors Succeed
Kevin Spacey set up the Kevin Spacey foundation in 2010, first in the U.K., and then in the U.S. three years later. The goal of the foundation is to help budding actors succeed through scholarships, workshops and education.
13. Star-Packed Selfie
Kevin Spacey was one of the celebs captured in Ellen DeGeneres’s legendary star-packed Oscars selfie in 2014. Spacey literally climbed over John Travolta and pushed away other famous celebs to photobomb the picture. He later told Ellen on her talk show: “In the last year I've got into the whole photobomb. I've understood it.”
14. Check Out My Work!
Kevin Spacey is a big fan of Woody Allen, and after House of Cards was released, he sent the director a note and a Netflix gift subscription telling him to check out his work. Woody Allen wrote back and promised to consider Spacey for a role in one of his films.
15. That’s a Lot of Movies
As of 2017, Kevin Spacey has appeared in 60+ movies. In his latest film Baby Driver, he stars as Doc--a mastermind heist planner. He’s also starring in the Ridley Scott project titled All the Money in the World--a crime drama based on the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, and it opens on December 8, 2017.
Kevin Spacey’s terrier mix is named Mini after his Mini Cooper car. In 2013 after the Marathon bombings, he also rescued a dog and named her Boston in honor of the city.
17. Twice Charmed
Kevin Spacey has won two Oscars in his career. The first was for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Usual Suspects in 1996, and the second in 2000 for Best Actor in American Beauty.
18. The Beady-eyed Villain
Early in his career, Kevin Spacey was deemed more of a “character actor” than a leading man, but his turn as villain Mel Profitt on the TV show “Wiseguy” in 1987 garnered him some serious attention.
After Wiseguy, Kevin Spacey went on to play several dark and manipulative characters that would make him famous. He played the sinister office manager in Glengarry Glen Ross, a sadistic Hollywood excutive in Swimming with the Sharks, and the smooth-talking eyewitness Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects.
20. Anxious to Work
Anxious to start working, Kevin Spacey quit Julliard after two years and signed up with the New York Shakespeare Festival. His first appearance on stage was as a messenger in a production of Henry IV.
21. Welcome to the Real World of Theater
The year after his theater debut, the festival director steered Spacey out into the "real world" of theater. He made his Broadway debut in Ibsen’s Ghosts, and worked with Jack Lemmon on a production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into the Night.
22. A Future Mentor
Kevin Spacey first met Jack Lemmon as a 13-year-old acting student at a summer workshop. From then on, Lemmon became his mentor, and the two remained close friends until his death in 2001. Spacey dedicated his 1999 Oscar to Jack Lemmon, and has often said that he based his performance on Lemmon’s character in The Apartment.
23. A Dozen Roses for the Grande Dame
When he was younger, Kevin Spacey would regularly attend the theater, and he once waited for Katharine Hepburn at the stage door to present her with a dozen roses. This began a correspondence that lasted for several years.
24. A High-Ranking Villain
Kevin Spacey’s performance in The Usual Suspects earned him the 48th spot on the American Film Institute’s top 100 villains list.
25. Who’s That on His Arm?
Kevin Spacey’s date for the 1996 Oscars was his mom. His mother was also his date for several other awards shows, and in one of his acceptance speeches he said, “And Mother, I don't care what they say about bringing you to awards shows, I will always bring you to awards shows 'cause I'm proud of you and I love you.”
26. Injured in a Chase
In April 2004, Kevin Spacey had his cell phone stolen by a youth claiming to need it to call their mother. He sustained a minor head injury when he tripped and fell over his dog while attempting to run after the thief.
27. That’s it!
After seeing a production of Sherlock Holmes in London, Kevin Spacey was so inspired that he decided right then and there to make his career in acting.
28. Runs in the Family
Kevin Spacey isn’t the only one in his family who’s good at impersonations. His brother Randall Fowler makes a living as a Rod Stewart impersonator in Idaho.
29. Not Tough at All!
Kevin Spacey seriously objects to actors who talk about how "tough" their jobs are. He considers his job a joy, and has said that he wants to hit the next actor he hears saying "I had to prepare physically for the role."
30. Playing a President is Enough
When asked in an interview if he would ever consider running for president in real life, Kevin Spacey said, “Fundamentally, I like to accomplish things. I would find politics very frustrating for that reason and like Frank Underwood I would probably end up killing a lot of people.”
31. He’s Just a Playwright
Kevin Spacey’s advice for teaching kids Shakespeare is to approach the plays from a perspective of how two people deal with each other. He says that he’s personally seen teenagers get excited about how relevant the plays are to their own lives, and advises people not to put Shakespeare on a pedestal because “he’s just a playwright.”
32. High on Potassium
For a scene in the movie K-Pax, Spacey takes a bite out of a banana with the skin still on. By the final cut, he’d eaten 17 bananas and jokes that he was on a potassium high for a day and a half afterwards.
Kevin Spacey admits to being a little bit starstruck when he had the opportunity to meet Jimmy Stewart for the first time. He said to the actor, “You're one of the greatest actors ever ... You’re probably sick of hearing that.” Stewart’s response? “I’m not sick of hearing it. Say it again!”
34. NY State of Outta My Mind.
In April 2017, Kevin Spacey made a surprise appearance at one of Billy Joel’s concerts at Madison Square Gardens. They performed a duet of Joel’s hit song New York State of Mind, and later tweeted a Selife with Joel, saying that the experience made him “NY State Outta My Mind”.
35. But I Wasn’t Even in That!
One of Kevin Spacey’s favorite things is being congratulated for movies he wasn’t even in. Once someone told him that he was so good in Reservoir Dogs, which left the actor wondering who he was supposed to be.
The voice and personality of DC villain Deadshot in Justice League was inspired by Kevin Spacey. Coincidentally, Spacey got his own chance to play a D.C. villain when he starred as Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor in Superman Returns.
37. A Small Sum
For his performance in the play The Iceman Cometh Spacey was paid a whopping 225 pounds per week. The role did earn Spacey other rewards, including an Olivier Award and a London Critics Circle Theatre Award. He was also nominated for a Tony when he took the role to Broadway.
38. Trigger Street
Kevin Spacey owns a production company called Trigger Street. The name is taken from a real street in the San Fernando Valley.
39. The Sleazy Businessman
Kevin Spacey’s role in the movie Working Girl was small, but memorable. In it he played a sleazy businessman whom Melanie Griffith’s character is tricked into dating by her lecherous boss.
40. Directorial Debut
Spacey’s directorial debut was a New Orleans-based crime drama called Albino Alligator. The film made only a minor splash at the box office, but won some positive reviews.
41. Shoe Salesman Makes Good
After dropping out of Julliard, Kevin Spacey briefly worked as a shoe salesman to help make ends meet.
42. Research for a Role
To prepare for his role as Bobby Darin in the 2004 film Beyond the Sea, Kevin Spacey watched several of Canadian singer Michael Buble’s performances.
43. Swear Off
When Kevin Spacey appeared as a guest on the Gordon Ramsey hosted TV show The F Word, he and Gordon Ramsey engaged in an epic swear-off. By the end of the show Ramsey conceded defeat, admitting “I think I've been out f****d.”
44. Thank you Kevin Spacey!
The band Matchbox 20 thanked Kevin Spacey in the liner notes for their debut album Yourself or Someone Like You. Rob Thomas said that it was because he watched several Spacey films while he was writing some of the songs on the album.
45. A Prison Visit
Prior to portraying Jack Abramoff in the film Casino Jack, Kevin Spacey visited the disgraced lobbyist in prison.
46. Many Idols
Kevin Spacey credits several idols whom he believes helped shape him as an actor. Among them are Henry Fonda, Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon.
47. Private Man
When Kevin was asked about his sexuality, he said a few things that had the gay community divided. Interviewer Kevin Sessums asked him, "We gay men have always proudly claimed you as a member of our tribe, and yet you don't proudly claim us back. Why?"
Kevin responded with, "Look, I might have lived in England for the last several years, but I'm still an American citizen and I have not given up my right to privacy." The Oscar-winning actor later said that "I don't live a lie. You have to understand that people who choose not to discuss their personal lives are not living a lie. That is a presumption that people jump to."
48. That Was no Prop
There is a scene in American Beauty where Kevin Spacey’s character gets high with a high school student. According to director Sam Mendes, the pot used to film the scene was real, and Spacey actually got high.
49. Not Their First Choice
Kevin Spacey was reportedly the 15th choice to host the 2017 Tony Awards. He was also the 2nd choice for his Oscar-winning role in The Usual Suspects, and the fourth choice for American Beauty (for which he also won an Oscar). He joked in an interview: “Maybe I can get shortlisted to host the Oscars if everyone else turns it down.”