- Jul 26, 1959
- South Orange, New Jersey, USA
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… More Bio:
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.
The son of a technical procedure writer and a secretary, Spacey was born in South Orange, NJ, on July 26, 1959. His family moved a great deal thanks to his father's job, eventually settling for a time in Los Angeles. It was there that Spacey -- who had previously done a stint at military school -- attended Chatsworth High School, where he was very active in the theater. After an attempt at standup comedy, Spacey went to Juilliard, though his time was cut short after his second year, when he decided to quit school and begin his career.
He made his theatrical debut in 1981 with Shakespeare in the Park, performing alongside the likes of Mandy Patinkin and John Goodman. The actor continued to be a fixture on the theater scene throughout the decade, performing both on Broadway and in regional productions. It was through the theater that he got his first big break: While auditioning for a Tom Stoppard play, Spacey was approached by director Mike Nichols, who cast him in his production of David Rabe's Hurlyburly. The actor's work in the play led Nichols to cast him as a subway mugger in his 1986 Heartburn. Two years later, the director and actor worked together again in Working Girl, in which Spacey had a small but memorable role as a sleazy businessman.
By this time, Spacey was starting to work steadily in film, although he maintained his stage work, winning a 1990 Tony Award for his role in the Broadway production of Lost in Yonkers. He also did a substantial amount of television work, appearing on the series Wiseguy as deranged criminal Mel Proffitt. Criminal or morally questionable activities were to figure largely in Spacey's subsequent portrayals: His first starring role in a film was as the husband of a murdered woman in the 1992 Consenting Adults. The same year, he won acclaim for his portrayal of a foul-mouthed, leech-like real estate agent in James Foley's screen adaptation of the David Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross.
Spacey landed his next memorable film role as yet another foul-mouthed jerk in the 1994 Swimming With Sharks, which he also co-produced. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his portrayal of an abusive studio executive, and he gained further recognition the same year for his entirely different role in The Ref, in which he played one half of a constantly arguing married couple. However, it was with his performance in the following year's The Usual Suspects that Spacey fully stepped into the spotlight. As the enigmatic, garrulous "Verbal" Kint, Spacey was one of the more celebrated aspects of the critically lauded sleeper hit, winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work. The actor won additional acclaim the same year for his role as a serial killer in the stylish and unrelentingly creepy thriller Seven.
Spacey went on to make his directorial debut the following year with Albino Alligator. A New Orleans-based crime drama starring Matt Dillon, Faye Dunaway, and Gary Sinise, the film won some positive reviews, though it made little impact at the box office. In addition to directing, Spacey kept busy with acting, appearing the same year in A Time to Kill and Al Pacino's documentary Looking for Richard.
The actor went on to star in Clint Eastwood's highly anticipated 1997 adaptation of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and then had a sizable role in the big-budget The Negotiator in 1998. The same year, he also lent his voice to the computer-animated A Bug's Life and starred in the screen ad
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