Kevin Spacey built a formidable acting career playing dangerous, darkly charismatic antiheroes in hits from “The Usual Suspects” to “House of Cards” — before disturbing allegations about his personal life brought it crashing down.
The two-time Oscar winner with a piercing, hypnotic charm first honed his craft on the stage, before going on to score major box office hits as a middle-aged father lusting after a teen in “American Beauty,” a serial killer in “Se7en” and the villain in “Superman Returns.”
But the 63-year-old Spacey has barely been seen except at courthouses since 2017, when he was among the first stars caught up in the global #MeToo reckoning, accused of sexual assault by multiple young men. He denies the claims.
Born in New Jersey in 1959, Kevin Spacey Fowler grew up in California, where he briefly attended, and was kicked out of, military school.
Spacey has recently spoken in court about a troubled childhood, with a father he described as a “white supremacist” and a “neo-Nazi,” who disliked gay people and did not appreciate his son’s interest in theater.
Nevertheless, in 1979, a young Spacey entered New York’s elite Juilliard performing arts school.
Spacey’s biggest early stage success came opposite Jack Lemmon in a 1986 production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”
His first film role was a tiny part as a subway thief that same year in “Heartburn” for Mike Nichols, the director Spacey had earlier worked for as an understudy in a Broadway play. The duo reunited for 1988 hit movie “Working Girl.”
Spacey also ventured into television and won breakthrough acclaim as a paranoid, psychotic and incestuous young crime boss in “Wiseguy.”
That set the tone for a string of pitch-black Hollywood hits culminating in 1995, when Spacey memorably appeared as a fanatical serial killer in David Fincher’s “Se7en,” and played a mysterious gangster in “The Usual Suspects” — a role that earned him his first Oscar for best supporting actor.
The mid-1990s also saw Spacey play a monstrous Hollywood executive in “Swimming with Sharks” and an ambitious, malevolent prosecutor in “A Time To Kill.”
Spacey’s crowning big-screen success came with 1999’s “American Beauty,” in which he played a sexually frustrated father trying to escape suburban drudgery who becomes obsessed with his teenage daughter’s friend.
He won his second Oscar — this time for best actor — as the movie racked up five Academy Awards, including best picture.
– From the Old Vic to Netflix –
In subsequent years, Spacey briefly pivoted toward gentler movie roles, including a romantic lead in “Pay It Forward” with Helen Hunt, and oddball sci-fi mystery “K-PAX.” The results were mixed.
Meanwhile Spacey, who had continued to win accolades for stage performances in such plays as “Lost in Yonkers” and “The Iceman Cometh,” announced in 2003 he was to take over as artistic director of London’s Old Vic.
Spacey’s decade-long tenure at the historic theater…