August 23, 2017 | Rachel Seigel

Unusual Facts About Kevin Spacey

"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.

Kevin Spacey in Isaia attends Tony awards 2017 at Radio City Music Halllev radin, Shutterstock

2. Get Out!

Spacey attended military school for grades 10 and 11, but he was expelled after hitting a classmate with a tire.

Portrait Photo of the actor Kevin Spacey in a dark gray suitPaul Hudson, Flickr

3. The Studious One

After military school, Kevin Spacey attended Chatsworth High School in Los Angeles where he was selected class valedictorian.

Chatsworth High School SignMike, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

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."

Oscar Winner Kevin Spacey And Nominee Mare Winningham Arrive At The Vanity Fair Post-Oscar PartyDenny Keeler, Getty Images


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.

Publicity photo of American television host, Chuck BarrisNBC Television Network, Wikimedia Commons

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.

Actor Kevin Spacey performs at the Venetian BallHandout, Getty Images

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.

Actor Val Kilmer arrives at the Warner Bros. premiere of "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"Kevin Winter, Getty Images

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.

Actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party hosted by Graydon CarterPascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

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.”

Kevin Spacey attends the European Premiere of Sony Pictures "Baby Driver"Tim P. Whitby, Getty Images


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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.

Actor Kevin Spacey (R) is presented with his honorary CBE (Commander of the British Empire) medal for services to drama by Prince CharlesWPA Pool, Getty Images


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.”

President Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey speak during the 25th Anniversary Rainforest Fund Benefit ConcertJamie McCarthy, Getty Images

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.

Kevin Spacey is seen on the red carpet during the after party for the Kevin Spacey Foundation Benefit ConcertLarry French, Getty Images

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.”

Photo taken by Bradley Cooper with (clockwise from L-R) Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Angelina Jolie, Peter Nyong'o Jr. and Bradley CooperHandout, Getty Images

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.

Director-actor Woody Allen speaks onstage during American Film Institute's 45th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to Diane KeatonKevin Winter, Getty Images

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 attends the European Premiere of Sony Pictures "Baby Driver"Tim P. Whitby, Getty Images

16. Mini

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.

Portrait Photo of the Actor Kevin Spacey at the San Diego Comic-ConPinguino k, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons


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.

Kevin Spacey holds his Oscar for Best Actor for his role in American BeautyDavid McNew, Getty Images

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.

Screenshot from the TV series Wiseguy (1987-1990)Cannell, Wiseguy (1987-1990)

19.Master Manipulator

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.

Actor Kevin Spacey attends screening of "The Usual Suspects" at Target Presents AFI's NightMike Windle, Getty Images

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.

Actor Kevin Spacey reading letter in his dressing room at the Richard Rodgers Theater Ian Cook, Getty Images

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.

Portrait Publicity photo of the actor Jack Lemmon in a dark suit and white shirtWire photo, Wikimedia Commons

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.

Jack Lemmon with his award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for 'Tuesday's with Maury'Kevin Winter, Getty Images


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.

 American Actress Katharine Hepburn In London, 1951Keystone-France, Getty Images

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.

Screenshot from the movie The Usual Suspects (1995)Gramercy, The Usual Suspects (1995)

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.”

Kevin Spacey and his mother during The 68th Annual Academy AwardsBarry King, Getty Images

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.

Actor KEVIN SPACEY at the world premiere of his new movie "Superman Returns"Featureflash Photo Agency, Shutterstock

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.

A locomotive named Sherlock Holmes gets a visit from a man dressed as its namesake, the famous fictional detectiveRon Case, Getty Images

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.

Singer Rod Stewart performs on stage at the Acer Arena in Sydney, AustraliaLisa Maree Williams, Getty Images

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."

Actor Kevin Spacey attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland CenterChristopher Polk, Getty Images

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.”

Kevin Spacey speaks on stage at the portrait unveiling and season 4 premiere of Netflix's "House Of Cards"Paul Morigi, Getty Images

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.”

Actor Kevin Spacey speaks onstage at the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet CompetitionImeh Akpanudosen, Getty Images

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.

Screenshot from the movie K-Pax (2001)Universal, K-Pax (2001)

33. Starstruck!

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!”

American actor James Stewart (1908 - 1997), star of 'Vertigo', 'Rear Window' and 'It's A Wonderful Life'.Stan Meagher, Getty Images

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”.

Kevin Spacey and Billy Joel perform after Joel is presented with the 2014 Gershwin PrizeKris Connor, Getty Images

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.

Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and Lynn Hirschberg speak onstage during the panel for the "Reservoir Dogs"Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

36. Deadshot

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.

Actor Kevin Spacey attends a Red Bull Racing and Superman Returns photocallBryn Lennon, Getty Images

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.

Actor Kevin Spacey poses with The John and Wendy Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance for 'Richard II', at The Critics' Circle Theatre AwardsGareth Cattermole, Getty Images

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.

Academy Award winners Adrien Brody, Kevin Spacey and President of Trigger Street Productions, Dana Brunetti celebrated the Jameson First Shot short film competitionTodd Williamson, Getty Images

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.

Screenshot from the movie Working Girl (1988)Twentieth Century, Working Girl (1988)

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.

Kevin Spacey at the Startup fair Bits&Pretzels at the ICM MunichYannik Bikker, Shutterstock

41. Shoe Salesman Makes Good

After dropping out of Julliard, Kevin Spacey briefly worked as a shoe salesman to help make ends meet.

Actor Kevin Spacey posing at stage door of the Richard Rodgers TheaterIan Cook, Getty Images

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.

Actor Kevin Spacey performs Bobby Darin songs at the "Beyond The Sea" New York premiere afterpartyEvan Agostini, Getty Images

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.”

Television personality and chef Gordon Ramsay smiles during a cooking demonstration and news conference held to celebrate the opening of his first Las Vegas restaurantEthan Miller, Getty Images

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.

Musicians Brian Yale, Kyle Cook, Rob Thomas and Paul Doucette of band Matchbox Twenty visit Bloomingdale's 59th Street StoreHenry S. Dziekan III, Getty Images

45. A Prison Visit

Prior to portraying Jack Abramoff in the film Casino Jack, Kevin Spacey visited the disgraced lobbyist in prison.

Actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the "Casino Jack" screening during AFI FESTAlberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

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.

Actors Al Pacino and Kevin Spacey pose backstage at the Golden Globe AwardsStaff, Getty Images

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."

Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey attends the premiere of Love's RoutineCraig Barritt, Getty Images

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.

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) In Dreamworks Pictures' "American Beauty."Handout, Getty Images

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.”

Host Kevin Spacey performs onstage during the Tony AwardsTheo Wargo, Getty Images

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,

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