Risky busi­ness

Kevin Spacey’s house of bards in Lon­don.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV -

am­bi­tion and big­ger than me.”

Af­ter be­ing run by a Cana­dian depart­ment store en­tre­pre­neur in the 1980s, the Old Vic, in Lon­don’s Water­loo neigh­bour­hood, was at one point in the 1990s go­ing to be turned into a dis­cotheque (“I’m not against a disco sea­son,” Spacey said).

By 1999, it was in the hands of a char­i­ta­ble trust, which was look­ing for an artis­tic di­rec­tor. Spacey, who had per­formed The Ice­man Cometh in Lon­don, was asked for help in se­lect­ing a can­di­date. In­stead he de­cided to put his own hat in the ring, for­mally tak­ing on the role in 2003.

His early years were rocky. Charged with fill­ing a 1,000-seat theatre that re­ceives no pub­lic fund­ing, Spacey oc­ca­sion­ally chose work crit­ics thought un­wor­thy of the theatre. Amid a hor­ren­dously re­viewed pro­duc­tion of Res­ur­rec­tion Blues, a writer at the Evening Stan­dard called for his res­ig­na­tion.

“How dare you not do Chekhov, Ib­sen, Shake­speare, Shaw?” Spacey said, echo­ing crit­ics’ com­ments. “We could take all of our crit­ics and fill one row. We have to fill a lot of rows ... The first job we have to do is to get people into this theatre. We have to do work that is ex­cit­ing, di­verse and that people might not ex­pect on the Old Vic stage, and we have to reach out to a broader, more di­verse and younger au­di­ence.”

Off­stage, Spacey was spend­ing most of his time fundrais­ing, court­ing cor­po­ra­tions and in­di­vid­u­als and fil­ing for grants to help main­tain the build­ing, with its Vic­to­rian plumb­ing and World War II-bombed roof. The Old Vic now has an Amer­i­can Air­lines bar and of­fers cheap tick­ets to pa­trons un­der 25 thanks to sub­si­dies from spon­sors.

“I had to push my fundrais­ing staff be­cause there’s a kind of po­lite Bri­tish thing,” he said, slip­ping into a fey whis­per, “’Oh, we don’t want to up­set them, so we thought we’d just ask for US$5,000 (RM16,000).’ Don’t ask for $5,000, ask for $25,000 (RM80,000) ... You have to be will­ing to be ag­gres­sive, to be di­rect. And I’ve never had a prob­lem with that.”

As the years ticked by, Bri­tish crit­ics even­tu­ally warmed to Spacey, par­tic­u­larly his 2011 Richard III. It’s a role that fans who know Spacey for his House Of Cards per­sona will find fa­mil­iar; Michael Dobbs, the nov­el­ist whose work the show is based upon, has said Richard III was an in­spi­ra­tion.

“Al­though some people be­lieve that Fer­ris Bueller cre­ated the di­rect ad­dress, it ac­tu­ally was Wil­liam Shake­speare and it ac­tu­ally was in this play,” Spacey said. “They’re both char­ac­ters that are will­ing to do what­ever is nec­es­sary to get ahead ... and they’re both char­ac­ters who are re­mark­able at pre­dict­ing how people will re­act to some­thing. That means that both of them are able to be about 16 moves ahead in the chess game.”

In re­leas­ing the doc­u­men­tary him­self, un­der the ban­ner Spacey LTD, the ac­tor said he is tak­ing con­trol of a project that’s pre­cious to him.

“I hon­estly be­lieve that the in­dus­try un­der­val­ues films like this,” he said. “They slot them in a lit­tle niche, ‘Oh that’s for a very small au­di­ence.’ Maybe there’s a big­ger au­di­ence for this than any­one might ex­pect.” — Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

House Of Cards Sea­son One airs ev­ery Wed­nes­day at 9.55pm on RTL CBS En­ter­tain­ment (Hyp­pTV Ch 616).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.