Kevin Spacey Beyond the Sea

Kevin Spacey Beyond the Sea

EXCLUSIVE Kevin Spacey/Beyond the Sea Interview by Paul Fischer in LosAngeles.

Kevin Spacey has never worked quite so hard in spreading the news that hisambitious Bobby Darrin biopic is finally coming to town. Years in the works,if one was to believe the hype, but Spacey insists that despite mediareports that playing Darrin has somehow been a lifelong ambition for theOscar winner, that assertion could not be further from the truth. "I didn'tget the rights to this film until the year 2000 so I had nothing to do withits 15-year journey at Warner Brothers. I was never attached to that filmand somehow in a lot of stories that I've read, it seems to be that themovie itself is being talked about as being this 15 year journey for me,which it wasn't. The truth is, I've dreamed about doing it since the late1980's and I wanted to do that movie but my actual participation in thisfilm didn't really begin until 1999, so one has to separate the dream fromthe reality in the sense that until I got the rights." Once Spacey acquiredthe rights, his arduous journey in getting the film made began, yet giventhe actor's unique choices as an actor, Spacey denies that a growing lack ofbox office clout presented problems in getting Beyond the Sea financed."What I got when I got those rights, was the film's reputation, which atthat point was, not being able to figure out how to make it. They've hiredall these great writers, they've had all these drafts, maybe the movieshouldn't be done and ultimately the argument I would constantly hear was:it's a great story, a great script and wonderful music, but how many peoplehave ever heard of Bobby Darin." Spacey says that he never quite understoodthat logic. "The argument on their end, the people that you go to, to tryand raise money, is people only go to movies about famous people if theyknow who they are. Then I would say, well wait a minute, if you use thatlogic why do audiences go to movies about fictional characters that they'venever heard of? "

Spacey adds that "they go, enjoy a movie and they discover a character likeForrest Gump or other great characters in the course of the experience. Youdon't have to walk into a movie like that, having passed a litmus test aboutknowledge, so I wanted to make a movie in which it didn't matter if you knewwho Bobby Darin was or not." Spacey's interpretation of the famed singer,immortalised on song in the likes of 'Mack the Knife' is a musical odyssey,told from Darrin's own perspective, utilising the musical as a way to tellthis story to that unfamiliar audience to which he refers. That was one ofthe specific reasons that Spacey decided to turn the biopic on its head, andturn the crooner's story, into a loving, musical tribute. "I think also tosome degree because films that are driven by music have a tarnishedreputation. It doesn't matter how many times you cite All That Jazz, Fame,Moulin Rouge or Chicago, those are all used as anomalies and I believe thatthis form should never have gone out of style. I think the musical form isa great form and I'm so happy that this year Beyond the Sea is not openingin a vacuum. We've had the lovely Ray which is doing incredibly well, wehave a Johnny Cash film coming up next year, all of which I think is allterrific for the genre. In a sense, these other movies are laying the groundwork because Beyond the Sea is not conventional as I was interested inmaking a film that celebrated entertainment, that was a romantic film, notjust about veiled romance but romance of the period, the music and thestyle."

As to why Darrin in particular that has ignited such passion for Spacey, whoboth stars and directs, Spacey is unequivocal. "It starts with his music,and with my absolute unabashed adoration of him as a performer. Then I thinkit's when you then learn what I learned when I read a couple of books abouthim when I was in my twenties, I learned about what he overcame, how sick hewas about some of the personal dramas he went through and that he packed inso much in a fifteen-year career. I think ultimately because he died soyoung, I feel his legacy is not as strong or in the place that it should beand that because he changed his look, because the last six years of hiscareer, he was going through all sorts of personal turmoil, writing thekinds of music and physically looking so different to the way people "wantedtheir Bobby Darin to be", that dissipated his legacy. I think he madechoices that were detrimental to his personal career but they were veryadvantageous to his personal life."

Spacey also concedes that there was a lot in Darrin about which the actorcould identify. "I think he was one of the last great all-round entertainersthat we ever had. He did everything, and I think he wanted to do everythingbecause I think he knew he was going to have such a short life. And heoften said, you can live a lot of times if you know how. And I think that'swhat pushed him to say I'm not going to rest on my laurels, I'm not going tojust do the thing they want me to do. I'm going to do what I have to do,I'm going to do the things that test my talent, that test my ability andpush me. He walked and lived on the edge and I think sometimes the mostinteresting things are the things on the edge and I myself in the last fiveyears have experienced that conflict between professional expectations andpersonal freedom where I've chosen to do things that critics have not caredfor, almost in a way 'how dare you try to do something that we don't thinkyou're right for'. You can't live for that, but you have to live foryourself and I think I understand that aspect about Bobby more than I everdid."

Spacey is not a Hollywood movie star in the conventional sense of the word.Resisting the allure of stardom, Spacey's 20-year career has often beendefined by original choices, such as his need to have taken over London'sOld Vic Theatre Company, a project, one would think, more daunting than evendirecting and starring in Beyond the Sea. "I've always been a theatre ratand ended up having a film career that has surprised me, so I feel that Iwant to do more theatre, so I just decided that I didn't want to spend thenext ten years making movie after movie after movie after movie after movieand occasionally trying to fit a play in, so I thought I'd rather do it theother way around. So I'm going to do play after play after play andoccasionally fit a movie in," he adds smilingly. And for those heading toLondon, Spacey promises a diverse theatrical agenda. "I just directed thefirst play which, I've been running now, which is a new play and IanMcKellen is coming back to the Old Vic for the first time since 1965 to do apantomime, Aladdin. Then I'm doing two plays back-to-back, one calledNational Anthems, and then we're doing Philadelphia Story."

It appears that Kevin Spacey is about to redefine himself in more ways thanone.



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