- Kevin Spacey, CBE
July 26, 1959 (age 61)
- Actor, Film Producer, Screenwriter, Film Director
- Thomas Fowler, Kathleen Fowler
Kevin Spacey, CBE (born Kevin Spacey Fowler; July 26, 1959) is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, and film producer. He began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s, before being cast in supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in the early 1990s, culminating in his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Usual Suspects (1995), followed by an Academy Award for Best Actor for American Beauty (1999).
During a career which has earned Spacey several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, his other starring roles include Seven (1995), L.A. Confidential (1997), Pay It Forward (2000), K-PAX (2001), and Superman Returns (2006). He was the artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London from 2004 to 2014. He currently stars as Frank Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards.
Spacey was born in South Orange, New Jersey, the son of Kathleen Ann (née Knutson; December 5, 1931 – March 19, 2003), a secretary, and Thomas Geoffrey Fowler (June 4, 1924 – December 24, 1992), a technical writer and data consultant. He has two older siblings: a sister, Julie, and a brother, Randy. He attended Northridge Military Academy, Canoga Park High School (in tenth and eleventh grades), and then Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, Los Angeles, where he graduated valedictorian of his class. At Chatsworth High, he starred in the school's senior production of The Sound of Music, playing the part of Captain Georg von Trapp, opposite Mare Winningham's character, Maria.
While in high school, he took on his paternal grandmother's maiden name, "Spacey," of Welsh origins, as his acting surname. Several reports have incorrectly suggested that he took his name in tribute to actor Spencer Tracy, combining Tracy's first and last names. He had tried to succeed as a 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 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. His prominence as a stage actor 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 early roles include a widowed eccentric millionaire on L.A. Law, the television miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988), opposite Lemmon, and the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder–starring comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). Spacey earned a 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. His performance as the enigmatic criminal Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
A 1999 Sunday Times article stated that Spacey's "love affair with acting, and the absence of a visible partner in the life of an attractive 40-year-old, has resulted in misunderstanding and Esquire magazine's bet-hedging assertion two years ago that he must be gay". He responded to such rumours by telling Playboy and other interviewers that he was not gay, and telling Lesley White of the Sunday Times, "I chose for a long time not to answer these questions because of the manner in which they were asked, and because I was never talking to someone I trusted, so why should I? Recently I chose to participate because it's a little hard on the people I love."
In an interview with Gotham Magazine, Spacey said, "I've just never believed in pimping my personal life out for publicity. I'm not interested in doing it. Never will do it. They can gossip all they want; they can speculate all they want. I just happen to believe that there's a public life and there's a private life. Everybody has a right to a private life no matter what their profession is." In 2000, he took his girlfriend of several years to the Academy Awards and thanked her during the acceptance speech for his Best Actor award. Reports in 1999 and 2000 suggested that she was a script supervisor named Dianne Dreyer.