In 2011 and 2012, Kevin Spacey took a break from Hollywood to travel around the world going back to his first love: the stage.
As artistic director with London’s Old Vic Theater company, Spacey also stepped in as star of Shakespeare’s epic historical tragedy Richard III. Part of the play’s international tour — traveling to 12 cities on three continents over 10 months’ time — is documented in the new movie, Now in the Wings of a World Stage.
We talked to the two-time Oscar winner ( American Beauty, Usual Suspects), 54, about the experience:
So why did you decide to undertake this huge project?
People did look at me like I fell out of a tree when I first started with all this. It’s the same thing: ‘Why don’t you do more movies?’ I’m pleased to answer that question. I wanted to find a way give to the viewer a look behind the scenes at things they usually don’t get to see. I wanted to show what is important to me and that I had dedicated my life to it. You get to meet a company of actors who are not famous, but they are the heart and soul of the living theater. You get to really know them and experience the process and what it’s like for all of us to work with each other and create this bond.
What a whirlwind. How do you keep up your stamina?
It was quite the journey; I couldn’t tell you the miles exactly. A lot. My simple answer? Tennis, tennis, tennis. Lots of running, biking, boxing, too. Look, the trick is if you’re gonna do an experience like this one, it’s not unlike an athlete. You have to be ready every night. Never lose your voice. Always be there, always be alert, always be moving in a new direction. These things are monsters but are incredible when they work.
You started out on stage in NYC. Would you recommend other actors to take same path?
Everyone is different. When I was a student at Juilliard, I played a messenger, a tavern person, a priest, a soldier [in Henry IV Part I in Shakespeare in the Park]. I had a total of five lines. One scene was with Mandy Patinkin — which was nerve-wracking — and I was doing my first play under the auspices of Joe Papp. But I was like a pig in s--t. In the theater program you can see a picture of me and [co-star] Val Kilmer.
So no part is ever too small, right?
Whenever you go to a play you should pay close attention to the guard and spear carriers. In five years they are going to be the leads. Go back to the Playbills for Broadway productions over the years. [Imitating a theater-goer], ‘Oh, look: The soldier. His name is Gregory Peck.’ ‘Hey, look who played the priest. Oh, it’s Anthony Quinn.’ It’s remarkable how many people you can name.
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“Now’’ screens one night only at 7 p.m. Thursday at O Cinema Miami Shores at the Miami Theater Center, 9806 NE Second Ave. Tickets at o-cinema.org. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on theater in South Florida with GablesStage's Joe Adler, Miami Theater Center's Stephanie Ansin and moderated by Miami Herald writer Christine Dolen. The film is also downloadable at www.kevinspacey.com/nowthefilm