Character Study – Kevin Spacey

spaceyMy husband and I have recently become enamoured with House of Cards and we’re currently working our way through Season 1. Hands down Kevin Spacey deserves all the praise he is receiving for his portrayal of Frank Underwood. Frank is the always conniving, always strategizing, politician with the charming Southern accent. He is a force of nature and it is breath-taking to watch Frank in action.

I’ve always been a fan of Kevin Spacey. He can brilliantly play both the hero and the villain, one of those talented actors you can count on for a great performance. It occurred to me that he has starred in quite a few movies based on books and I thought I would take a look at some of the standouts.

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Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet

Lie. Cheat. Steal. All In A Day’s Work.

The 1992 movie based on David Mamet’s prize-winning play was probably one of the first movies I ever saw (as an action, horror, sci-fi junkie in my youth) that was more about the dialogue and less about the action and visual effects. I have to admit that the dialogue was so snappy and fast, a lot of it went over my head. In the movie, Kevin Spacey plays John Williamson, the office manager of the real estate office in the story. Apparently Al Pacino saw Kevin Spacey perform on Broadway and convinced director, James Foley to consider Kevin for the movie.

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A Time To Kill by John Grisham

A lawyer and his assistant fighting to save a father on trial for murder. A time to question what they believe. A time to doubt what they trust. And no time for mistakes.

I saw the 1996 adaptation of John Grisham’s novel in the theatres because I was eating up the media hype about Matthew McConaughey, at that time the hot new thing in Hollywood, and I was already a huge fan of Sandra Bullock. Kevin Spacey plays D.A. Rufus Buckley, the arch nemesis of McConaughey’s attorney, Jake Brigance. Kevin plays Buckley like a dirty, menacing snake, so of course I hated him during the movie.

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L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

Everything is suspect…everyone is for sale…and nothing is what it seems.

The 1997 movie based on the neo-noir crime novel is about a group of LA detectives during the early 1950s who each take a turn investigating a botched robbery. Their separate investigations lead to the discovery of a number of bigger, connected crimes. Kevin Spacey plays Sergeant Jack Vincennes, a charming narcotics detective who does side work as a consultant on a popular TV crime show. Kevin was nominated and won several awards for his LA Confidential role. I remember this movie was a real knockout: stylish and gorgeous to watch, engrossing plot and stellar performances by the cast.

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The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

Dive Beneath The Surface

In the 2001 movie based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Kevin Spacey plays the central character Quoyle, a down-on-his-luck father who moves to Newfoundland to start fresh. Apparently the movie makes quite a few changes from the book. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve heard a lot people rave about Spacey’s performance, especially since it’s so different from other characters he has played. Spacey was nominated for a BAFTA and Golden Globe Award for his performance.

For Kevin Spacey’s full filmography visit Wikipedia.

Have you read any of the books or seen Kevin Spacey in these movies? Are you watching House of Cards? I would love to hear your thoughts.


2 Comments on “Character Study – Kevin Spacey”

  1. We started Watching the first season of House of Cards and it was interesting, but then we kinda stopped… it’s still a plan though. I’ve discovered I completely lack persistence when it comes to TV-series. Which is odd because books take even more time to get through…

    Sometimes though I shy away from series if they feel somehow cruel or handle difficult topics. House of Cards is this kind of Ugly World of politics, where all the worst traits of people seem to come out. Another series, even worse, is Mad Men – I even at times felt physically sick when watching that.

    I only remember Kevin Spacey from a few films – American Beauty, which I didn’t particularly enjoy as a teenager, and Pay It Forward, which was a cute film.

    • I completely understand how you feel. My husband loves Mad Men, but I could not stomach the characters. He also loves American Beauty, but I can’t stand Kevin Spacey’s character. I thought he was just creepy and a pervert. Hmm … seems to be a pattern here.

      Even though I’m enjoying the show, I do feel weird liking Frank Underwood because he’s truly a bad person. It reminds me of Breaking Bad and it seems the rise of the anti-hero seems to be the latest thing in TV.

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