The man who fell on Earth
By Carlo Bizio
(Italian to English translation)
A chameleon 2 time Oscar’s awarded
He’s been a crime genius, a serial killer, a 40-years-old in crisis…
Now he’s coming back as a K-Pax alien. K-Pax…a planet where there is no war, violence and hunger…
In person Kevin Spacey has a provincial employee look: that look that on the screen allows him the most extraordinary transformations.
Bald, with considerable bags and liquid eyes, Spacey 42 years old, shows his good nature as soon as he opens his mouth. Sharp, ironic but extremely sensitive at the same time and a great learning man, he’s provided of an electric quiet which immediately lights up the room. With his nasal twang and his vague look, he makes you listen to him.
The question is: could he really be an alien (according with his last name which seems to be a snare)?
Appropriate question after saw him in K-Pax. K-Pax’s world and Spacey simply stick together. Spacey is present and mysterious, worldly and elusive.
For this interview he wears a very theatrical black sweatshirt that emphasizes his post-*LasseHallstrom/TheShippingNews* flabby cheeks. His look is sad: the new American situation is giving him a bad time: “I’m an irreducible (?) New Yorker although I was born in Los Angeles(?) -he said whispering- and there are no words to describe what everyone knows if not that horror that Brando pronounced in Apocalypse Now”.
In K-Pax, directed by the Britain Ian Softley, Spacey is Prot, a man who came from nothingness who maintain to come from another planet where there are no violence no war, no hunger. He’s locked up in a mental hospital where the psychiatric, performed by Jeff Bridges, discreetly try to reveal the mystery (obviously schizophrenic…or not?). The alien , a clever insane with prodigious astronomic knowledge, seems to have miraculous effects on the other patients (A ”Nido del Cuculo” without lobotomies*) that dream to change to K-Pax at the moment of his coming back.
Spacey, Oscar awarded for American Beauty in 1999, blew out on screen 6 years ago, performing in fast sequence in Swimming With Sharks-SE7EN-and The Usual Suspects (for which he won his first Oscar for a Supporting Role, in the mephistophelic Keyser Soze character). He next preformed in Midnight in the Garden of Good&Evil, The Negotiator and The Big Kahuna. He’s directed the semi serious noir Albino Alligator, too. Famous in theater previous to that in cinema, he splitted up in Broadway with Long Days Journey Into Night, Lost in Yonkers and The Iceman Cometh that last year he brought on London, too.
Film TV: Mr. Spacey, K-Pax couldn’t get out on a best moment, isn’t it?
KS: It’s hard to explain some coincidences. None of us imagined that the film ideas would have this resonance in this moment. Prot talks about tolerance and compassion, about comprehension between strangers. There are many things that Prot says that pierce the public opinion bubble. If K-Pax did exist it’d be a wonderful society where people feed each other, where if you need something it would be brought to you and the things you eat are your own product.
Film TV: Prot is against the “an eye for an eye” logic, too.
KS: Of course. But it’s funny to think that this logic would have been erroneously appropriated by death-penalty supporters. In the old days the society used to kill you for being lazy, for making a mistake. At a certain point men told themselves: we can’t go on like this, we’ve to find an equitable position: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Funny, isn’t? It was an anti death-penalty idea!
Film TV: Have you studied patients with similar hallucination’s state preparing for the role in K-Pax?
KS: I’ve been in various mental hospitals where I’ve met many patients who affirmed to come from other planet. Good persons, with strange hair and radar-hats. They exprime (?) their fantasy with great conviction, but as like the doctor in the movie, the psychiatric push the patient to his fantasy’s edge, where he cannot get over and tell him: you see, you can’t come from another planet, you’ve to restrain these fantasies. But in the movie, the doubts remain, the final is open to the single interpretation. And if it’s true?
Film TV: Is there a common line between K-Pax, Pay It Forward and American Beauty, a sort of new-age meditation on the contemporary condition?
KS: They’re completely different. But they’ve the hope in common. It’s a direction that I want to go on with: beautiful stories which are worthy to be told, which say something about the often useless human’s pains. I don’t know what’ll be next.
The Shipping News where I’m a widowed journalist who find again the joy of life in a cold town of Newfoundland, it’s a family movie, with an hopeful message. It’s a bit like the representation of the moment which I’m now, as a man and as an actor.
Film TV: And what else?
KS: I’m on the set of Alan Parker’s The Life of David Gale, in these days. It’s a movie with Kate Winslet and Laura Linney, an anti death-penalty movie…ironically! I’m a philosophy professor who fought against death-penalty for all his life and who’s condemned himself. A very strong and inspired movie, really appropriate in these time.
Film TV: Are you for the death-penalty abolition?
KS: Definitely yes. We’re the only civilized country that order state’s death. Inadmissible!
Film TV: To return on cinema: is there a gold dream’s character?
KS: Yes and I’m near to realizing it. It’s a bio-pic movie on the life of Bobby Darin, who died of a rare heart’s deformity at 37 years old. He was a people’s idol….the James Dean of the song.
*A “nido del cuculo” without lobotomies means that (for the journalist) the movie is a soft version of “One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with Jack Nicholson.
Film TV February 2, 2002 (Big thanks to Anna for the translation.)