Kevin’s Big ‘News’!
December 17, 2001
The story line may have included some choppy emotional waters, but it was smooth sailing behind-the-scenes of KEVIN SPACEY‘s newest movie, ‘The Shipping News,’ co-starring CATE BLANCHETT and JULIANNE MOORE! The story of a repressed newspaperman who finds redemption by returning to his ancestral home in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, the film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by E. ANNIE PROULX and is directed by ‘Chocolat’s’ LASSE HALLSTROM. Kevin tells ET about shooting in Newfoundland, his newfound parenting desires and why his character was all wet!
ET: Can you describe this movie in 15 seconds?
KEVIN SPACEY: ‘Shipping News’ is a man’s story of self-discovery and, at its heart, it’s a movie about the importance of family.
ET: So what was it like to shoot the movie in Newfoundland, where the story is also set?
Kevin: The place [has] weather that is definitely of its own making. Our call sheet looked like a true or false quiz every day! It would say: “If it’s a blizzard …if it’s windy…if it’s snowing…if it’s sunny, we go inside. You didn’t know what you were going to be doing on a daily basis in terms of the work. That meant you had to be prepared for almost any scene going into the day. We stayed in this fishing community about three hours outside of St. John’s [the capitol] and lived in almost-dorm circumstances at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast called The Fisher’s Loft. I was on one floor and [co-star] JUDI [DENCH] was upstairs and Lasse was higher. We ate there every night and there was one bar in town — Judi and I played pool. There wasn’t much to do but [it] was quite majestic.
ET: Your character keeps saying, “I’m not a water person.” How about Kevin?
KEVIN: I am definitely a water person, but I know a lot of people who aren’t. So it was easy for me [while shooting] to think of my friends whom I’ve seen on boats or jet skis not doing well at all. Plus, Quoyle [my character] isn’t just not a water person — he is not particularly adept on land either! He’s just not a person on sturdy ground [in his life].
ET: Your character is always about to drown, too.
KEVIN: He spends a lot of time in the water! There was about six days where I was either in a murky pool or a wave tank or the Atlantic Ocean. So it was pretty water-logged for a lot of the experience. [For one scene I was] in a wave tank, which is essentially a gigantic Olympic swimming pool except for these huge [devices] that keep moving the water. You’re being trounced with waves that are being made. They can speed [the wave] up and slow it down; [for me] they kept speeding it up!
ET: Let’s talk about the love scenes. You’ve got them with both Cate and Julianne in this movie, but one seemed like a lot more work than the other.
KEVIN: You call that work, do you?
ET: Well, in the one scene with Cate, it looks like you were really sweating it!
KEVIN: Well, for Quoyle, I suspect it’s the first woman. You get this sense that he hasn’t been out dating a lot. Cate also brought out these Twinkies or marshmallows and just started shoving them in my mouth [during the scene]. None of that was scripted, I’ll have you know! She was pregnant [at that time] and just had her baby yesterday. ET: What was it like working with Julianne?
KEVIN: Well, she’s luminous and also fragile. She was just beautiful to work with. And it felt very romantic and real for what these characters were experiencing.
ET: Your character is also a father, and a great one at that.
KEVIN: I think he learns to be a father. That’s the journey, that Quoyle really doesn’t know what’s out there for him. I think, like a lot of people, he suddenly finds himself a father and doesn’t quite know how to go about doing that. Through the course of the film, he learns that maybe he is equipped to be a father.
ET: You’ve said that you want to have a family of your own some day. What kind of a dad do you think you’d be?
KEVIN: I would hope I’d be as open to learning as Quoyle is. I think we base our notions of relationships on what we observed as kids. I was quite fortunate to have parents who were incredibly supportive and really taught me how important it is to be encouraging and supportive, and be disciplined and strong. So, I would like to believe that I would be good at [parenthood]. Like anything else, if you do it long enough you probably get good at it!
ET: Looking back to earlier in your career, did you ever worry that you wouldn’t make it as an actor?
KEVIN: Sure. I think every actor goes through a time where it’s bleak and desolate and you can’t get a job. You’re working some other job to try and pay your rent. I never let it defeat me and I never took my eye off what I hoped my future would be. But I don’t think I’ve had it as tough as some people. I mean, I didn’t go through 15 years of not working — I [did] theater. I was fortunate to be working, to learning and growing [during that time].
© 2001 Paramount Pictures