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Kevin Spacey Brings His Labor of Love to the Screen

Spacey on Bobby Darin and "Beyond the Sea"

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Kevin Spacey Beyond the Sea

Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in "Beyond the Sea"

© Lions Gate Films
Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey ("American Beauty," "The Usual Suspects") has long been interested in portraying entertainer Bobby Darin on film. A fan of Darin's since childhood, Spacey's determination to be involved in a movie based on Darin's life finally paid off in late 2003 when filming on "Beyond the Sea" began in earnest.

With "Beyond the Sea," Spacey hopes to introduce Bobby Darin's music to a new generation of fans, while stimulating renewed interest amongst audiences who can still remember listening to Darin during his heyday.

INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN SPACEY ('Bobby Darin'):

How hard was it for you as a director and the star to jump in and out of character? The other actors have said you weren’t Bobby Darin when you were directing.
It’s just part of my character. I’m able to compartmentalize very well and do that, [snaps fingers] and I’m out of it, in it. But it was also interesting. It takes a while for actors to start to feel safe and trusting. You ask them to go places that are either wildly comic, and they are not quite sure who they’re playing yet. And I remember Greta [Scacchi], when we were shooting a scene like the first or second night, and it was freezing cold and we were outside in Berlin, [thinking about] what were we doing. We did a take and Greta said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and I said, “What?” She goes, “I just became very self-conscious. I suddenly realized that you were the director.” And I said, “And?” And she said, “I suddenly saw you looking at me as the director and not me as Bobby.” And I said, “Greta, Bobby is the director…” And she went, “Oh,” literally, and then just completely relaxed. And it was an interesting dynamic. Because I’d created that concept, it was less hard for everyone else, and even less hard for me to be able to go back and forth.

It’s just part of my character. I’m able to compartmentalize very well and do that, [snaps fingers], and I’m out of it, in it. But it was also interesting. It takes a while for actors to start to feel safe and trusting. You ask them to go places that are wildly comic, and they are not quite sure who they’re playing yet.

How big a challenge was it for you to lip-sync?
I did some of the stuff live. The first “Mack” is live. It’s not hard for me at all. I’ve always been very good at looping. I won’t leave a looping stage until it’s exact, until I know that that’s going to look at least like I actually said that. Plus, I’d been working on the music for so long. We recorded the tracks in September, before we knew if we had a movie. So I paid for all those sessions because we had no money, but I knew I had to get those tracks down. It was too huge an operation. We had 73 musicians and there were all these charts. It was huge. I had about a month and a half with all those tracks before we started shooting. I’d known the music so well, and I knew Bobby’s arrangements so well, that they were in me. Plus we kept singing, even when we would do a performance. Then Peter Cincotti, who’s a great jazz artist, we’d play all these songs that we know, just for all the extras. We couldn’t stop.

Can you talk a little about casting Kate Bosworth?
Easy. I mean, it was easy. I was always fascinated over the last couple of years as I was reading all these tabloid articles about me and Sandra Dee being in a big feud, about me wanting to cast Drew Barrymore. Nothing against Miss Barrymore, but I didn’t have any intention of casting Drew or anyone else who was very well known. I always knew I wanted a relative unknown to play the role. It wasn’t until I met Kate at a dinner, and I never saw her work, I didn’t see any of her films before I met her. I saw them after I cast her. My casting director here said, “You’ve got to meet Kate Bosworth.”

I went to this dinner, I walked in, and she’s a smart girl and she dressed as the role. She was sitting across this area of this restaurant, sitting on a bench waiting for me. I just saw her from across the room, about 20 feet [away]. Her blond hair was across [forehead] and she was wearing a little sweater and a little print dress. I just went, “Oh my God.” I literally heard “Summer Place” in my head. We sat down and we had this dinner. She was funny, she was intelligent, [and] she wasn’t wrapped up in herself. She’s an east coast girl. I knew in about 15 minutes. And one of the reasons I did know was because, even though Kate’s quite young, she has a very mature face. I knew on film, on screen, that face could age. There a lot of girls who can be young and beautiful and America’s sweetheart, but to get where I needed this character to get, to deal with the issues of alcoholism without doing it over the top, to watch how difficult that marriage was, I knew I needed an actress who could get there. And she got there.

PAGE 2: Kevin Spacey on Discovering the Music of Bobby Darin

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