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CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Donald Trump, Keven Spacey
Aired April 3, 2004 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, the multibillionaire who's found new fame as a TV star.
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DONALD TRUMP, MULTIBILLIONAIRE: You're fired.
The reviews have been amazing on the show.
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ANNOUNCER: His name is synonymous with living large.
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GEORGE ROSS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Donald does not do anything that's small or minor.
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ANNOUNCER: But there's more to The Donald than his lavish life style.
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TRUMP: Well, I don't drink and I don't smoke and those are two of my better qualities.
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ANNOUNCER: What he considers his greatest achievement may surprise you.
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IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER: When we came home from school, he was our dad.
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ANNOUNCER: The reality behind the unlikely star of reality TV, Donald Trump.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a famous actor.
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ANNOUNCER: He is one of Hollywood's leading men who got to the top with unconventional style.
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LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Kevin Spacey had to prove himself based on being just one hell of a good actor.
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ANNOUNCER: A rambunctious youth who found his calling on stage.
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KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: Where'd my job go? I quit.
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ANNOUNCER: He opened himself up on screen in movies like "American Beauty." He wanted to keep his personal life closed.
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SPACEY: The less that you, as an audience know about me, the better I can do my job.
Look, I'm aware...
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ANNOUNCER: Now, the enigmatic actor plays producer in "The United States of Leland." Leading man, director and now filmmaker, Kevin spacey, also, people at 30. The most memorable moments and intriguing issues now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi. Welcome to a special edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. It's "People" magazine's 30th birthday and throughout this hour, we're celebrating with a look back at some of the fascinating facts that filled the pages of "People." But we begin with a fresh look at The Donald, Donald Trump, never shy, always outspoken. The real estate mogul has become a super celebrity with his hit reality show, "The Apprentice." But what's the real story behind Trump? For that, here's Bill Hemmer.
BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the world of business big wigs, he is quite literally the gold standard.
MARK BURNETT, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE APPRENTICE": Let's face it, Trump has been a cultural icon for 20 years. HEMMER: He is one of the most prolific real estate developers in American history.
DONALD J. TRUMP Jr., THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think he wanted to change the skyline of New York and I think he certainly has.
HEMMER: He is the epitome of champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
RUSSELL SIMMONS, FRIEND: There's a lifestyle associated with Donald Trump that people in America, from the trailer parks to the projects, to middle America, they all see that as what they work for or dream about.
HEMMER: His blunt style of business has earned him billions, whether you like it or not.
ROSS: Is he fast? Is it brusque? Is he abrasive? IS he egotistical? Yes, all of those things but that's what business is.
TRUMP: You're fired. You're fired.
HEMMER: And now, he's a proud new owner of a catch phrase.
TRUMP: I realized right after I said it how beautiful those words are. They're horrendous and mean and vicious. But they are beautiful in a sense because it's very defining. When we say you're fired, it's over.
HEMMER: "The Apprentice" made an unlikely television star out of the real estate mogul. It's a smash hit and Donald Trump would not have it any other way.
TRUMP: I'm looking for "The Apprentice."
HEMMER: Donald John Trump was born in the shadows of Manhattan on June 14, 1946 to Fred and Mary Trump.
J.D. HEYMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Fred Trump was an incredibly strict, German father. His mother is a Scottish woman. They had a very strong, tight knit family.
HEMMER: The third of five children, young Donald had real estate in his blood.
DIANA BRADY, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "BUSINESSWEEK": Fred Trump made his billions building government subsidized housing in Queens and Brooklyn. There were a lot of immigrants in New York City. They needed housing and the best place to house them was in the outer boroughs.
HEMMER: The Trumps resided on Midland Parkway, in the Queens, New York neighborhood called Jamaica Estates.
TRUMP: I really grew up pretty normal. I mean I lived in an upper middle-income area and it was -- it was nice. I mean it was just good. HEMMER: But Trump was an aggressive and rebellious child. He was almost expelled from Q. Forest School in the second grade for punching his music teacher. Trump has said -- quote -- "I didn't think he knew anything about music."
TRUMP: I wasn't the most well behaved person in the world and my parents had no idea what to do with me, and they heard about this school that was a tough place and they sent me up to New York Military Academy and it was really a great experience for me.
HEMMER: The move paid off. Trump got his act together. He excelled at sports and academics. And his newfound discipline made him one of the highest-ranking cadets at the academy.
TRUMP: I loved to parade down Fifth Avenue and literally, pass the site of so many of my buildings including Trump Tower.
HEMMER: After graduating from military school, Trump had a decision, to go into the family business or chase his dreams in Hollywood.
TRUMP: I was going to be a movie producer. In fact, I applied, at one point, I remember, to the USC School of Cinema. But then decided that the movie business wasn't as good as the real estate business.
HEMMER: So Trump enrolled in the prestigious Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia. He graduated in 1968 and joined his father working on developments in Brooklyn and in Queens. But Donald was daydreaming of a future on the other side of the East River.
TRUMP: When I worked in Brooklyn and Queens and I'd look over and I'd see these great skyscrapers, these magnificent buildings. I said that's where I want to be.
HEMMER: On the road to Manhattan, Donald Trump met a stunning blond Czechoslovakian named Ivana Zelnicek.
HEYMAN: She's a model at the time. They were both driven, perfectionists. They were both highly ambitious people. They're both gaudy people. There's a hat you see is what you get quality to both of them and in a lot of ways, they were a match made in heaven.
HEMMER: The two were married in 1977 and went on to have three children. It was around the same time that Trump laid the first brick in the foundation of his empire. Trump bought the bankrupt Commodore Hotel near Grand Central Station. And though he was still new to the Manhattan real estate scene, Trump was able to negotiate tax breaks to begin a major renovation project.
BRADY: He also had his father's contacts. He had his father's money. So in many ways he owes a lot of his success, the base of it at least, to his father, Fred Trump.
TRUMP: He was afraid of Manhattan. It wasn't his thing. It wasn't what he was comfortable with. So he didn't totally encourage me to go. He thought it might be biting off too much.
HEMMER: Trump transformed the broken down Commodore into the glitzy Grand Hyatt and 42nd Street began to come to life. For his next move, Trump set his sights sky high.
BRADY: If you want to build these iconic, almost phallic buildings, in Manhattan, you need to own air space.
HEMMER: Trump bought the rights to build over one of New York's most iconic buildings, Tiffany at 57th and 5th.
BRADY: When he got that lease, he wanted to build not only an ode to Donald, he wanted to build a magnificent luxury structure, which he did with Trump Tower.
HEMMER: Trump Tower, with its brass fixtures, marble floors, high-end stores and six-story running waterfall quickly became a tourist attraction and it started a renaissance on Fifth Avenue.
REGIS PHILBIN, FRIEND: That Trump Tower saved Fifth Avenue because the signs were going up. Liquidation sale, if you remember, 20 years ago what it was like. It was in jeopardy.
HEMMER: Atheistically minded New Yorkers may not have taken to their style, but Trump's buildings got a lot of attention.
HEYMAN: Donald Trump is tacky. He is not old money in that classic upper crusty sense. He has a very Democratic, in fact, very American idea of success and that's gold-plated toilet seats and fixtures.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Real glitzy, a lot of gold. But don't ask me what I think about tourists when they come to New York and they just stare up at the sky.
HEMMER: Trump kept building. And on each facade, something that no one could miss, that name. It was everywhere.
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: He would never endorse a product that he didn't believe in. What'd you put your name on that building? Because it's going to be the best.
PHILBIN: The ceilings are always a little higher. The windows are a little larger. That's the way he is. Some people think he's showing off. Well, maybe. Maybe a little bit of that, too, but he loves perfection.
BRADY: People will pay 80 percent more just to be in a Trump property versus the exact same type of an apartment without that Trump name.
HEMMER: When our story continues, Donald and Ivana become media darlings for better and for worse. And while trying to survive at the top, the bottom almost falls out of his empire.
TRUMP: I have billions and billions of dollars. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: "People" hit the newsstands 30 years ago. Do you know who appeared on the first cover? The answer when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.
ANNOUNCER: Mia Farrow was on the cover when the first "People" magazine appeared in 1974. The cost? Thirty-five cents. The big story, the next big movie, "The Great Gatsby."
HEMMER (voice-over): If the 1980's were the greed is good era, then Donald Trump was the decade's poster boy.
HEYMAN: I mean really Donald Trump is synonymous with the 1980s. He is an artifact of the 1980s and he is beloved because he hasn't changed at all since the 1980s.
HEMMER: By 1987, Trump was a national phenomenon. He had written "The Art of The Deal," a "New York Times" bestseller. He was lampooned in a cartoon strip, "Doonesbury." And the Trump name had become so well known that he even had his own board game. The fame went well beyond business. Donald and Ivana become one of the most recognizable couples in the world.
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: You open the front door in the morning and "The New York Post" is there and your parents are on the cover. And it's certainly something you're aware of.
HEYMAN: You know, Ivana Trump had a very, you know, Zsa Zsa Gabor classic Eastern-European way of talking and she, too, was larger than life. They were like cartoon characters. She called him The Donald. "Spy" magazine called him the Short-Fingered Bulgarian.
BRADY: One of the beauties of Donald Trump is he is kind of the epitome of how billionaires are supposed to live. He is often personified.
HEMMER: Trump led the good life and had all the toys that went along with it. He had the yacht, the 280-foot Trump Princess, once owned by the Sultan of Brunei. He had the beach house, the sprawling estate in Palm Beach, Florida. It certainly did not hurt his image to have the biggest and best of everything.
SIMMONS: People who are really, really rich sometime they think it's OK to get a G-4, or a G-5. And it's a fantastic plane and you know, it's a luxury way to travel and all, but Donald flies on a 727.
HEMMER: For Trump, the glitzy world of gambling at casinos was the next logical step in expanding his empire.
BRADY: I think he recognized casinos were lucrative and casinos are cash cows. And if you're a developer, one thing you want is a lot of cash flowing in.
HEMMER: The Trump Plaza and Trump Castle revitalized the rundown Atlantic City boardwalk. It seemed Donald Trump could do no wrong.
In 1986, he brought his vision to his own backyard. Central Park's woven ice-skating rink, visible from Trump's Trump Tower apartment was in severe disrepair. New York City has spent six years and millions of dollars struggling to rebuild the rink until Trump decided to step in.
ROSS: He brought it in under budget on time.
HEMMER: Trump's success was an embarrassment to city bureaucrats.
ROSS: Well, if the private enterprise can do it like Donald Trump, how come all of the experts we had spending all of the money that the city puts together can't do something like this?
HEMMER: A battle of words erupted with New York City's mayor Ed Koch. Trump demanded city tax abatements on real estate projects prompted Koch to call him "Piggy, Piggy, Piggy." Trump responded by labeling the mayor a moron.
TRUMP: I think my truthfulness sometimes gets a little bit blunt and that does put people off.
BRADY: There are a lot of people who don't share his style, his aspirations or his humorous, frankly.
HEMMER: Trump added even more acquisitions through the late '80s. He started the Trump Shuttle after buying the troubled Eastern Airlines. And he bought Merv Griffin's Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City while it was still under construction.
BRADY: He got too giddy and probably too greedy. At one point, he was issuing, I think, $675 million in bonds himself to finance the property and that was what put him on the press that was basically where everything could have imploded.
HEMMER: In Trump style, the grand opening of the Taj Mahal was nothing short of a spectacle but just a few months later, his empire nearly crumbled.
TRUMP: When the real estate markets collapsed in the early 90's, late 80's, and people were just devastated. People, good real estate developers, went bankrupt and they were gone.
HEMMER: The nervous lenders who had bankrolled Trump wanted their nearly $3.5 billion backed. To make matters worse, Trump was going through a personal crisis. His marriage was falling apart and Donald was spending a lot of time with former beauty queen, Marla Maples. Their affair erupted into a full-fledged scandal. The New York tabloids were merciless.
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: It was fairly rough because you have a lot of people that don't really know both sides of any given story and they're writing about it.
HEMMER: The $20 million divorce settlement hit The Donald where it hurt.
TRUMP: There's nothing great about divorce. Divorce is tough because it's personal.
HEMMER: With a failed marriage behind him, Trump focused on trying to rebuild his business. He was able to avoid bankruptcy by selling off some of his cherished possessions.
BRADY: He had to give up a lot of the iconic properties. He had to sell back the Plaza Hotel. He got out of the Grand Hyatt. He had to get rid of the Trump Shuttle. So a lot of the things he dreamed about, he ended up having to sell in order to stage a come back.
TRUMP: I decided to really fight and really fight hard. And Ii made deals with banks. I think the fact that my name was so good and my name was so well branded and so well indoctrinated in the minds of wealthy people, in particular, helped me. I had an advantage over other people.
HEMMER: But the mid 90's, it was clear that Trump and his name had survived.
HEYMAN: He had gone from being a billionaire to truly broke and saved himself. Whatever you think of Donald Trump, it is a remarkable turn around.
HEMMER: Trump rebounded personally, as well. He married Marla Maples in 1993 and soon after, she gave birth to Donald's fourth child, a daughter named Tiffany. The couple would divorce only four years later.
When our story continues...
TRUMP: Who will be "The Apprentice"?
HEMMER: ... Mr. Trump goes to Hollywood...
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: It would be great if he just went off to be a movie star and allowed me to do all the real estate stuff.
HEMMER: ...and a surprising look at the man behind the myth.
I. TRUMP: There's a big disparity between my father as a public figure and as a father and a family man.
HEMMER (voice-over): After near financial ruin and personal trials in the early '90s, Donald Trump kept building. But he retreated as much as Donald Trump could from the spotlight. When he was ready, though, he came back with a vengeance, teasing the press with the idea of a presidential bid in 1999.
TRUMP: If I think I can win, we may very well have a very positive decision.
HEMMER: As always, setting his sights sky high, Trump mentioned Oprah Winfrey as a possible running mate on the Reform Party ticket. Not everyone took him seriously.
RANGEL: I thought it was show time having his name mentioned for president.
HEMMER: The candidacy never materialized, but in the political polling game, Trump had staggering numbers.
BRADY: I think the Gallup Organization did a poll a few years ago where 98 percent of Americans knew who Donald Trump was.
HEMMER: Trump has always known the value of his name and the value of a form of exaggeration that he likes to call Truthful Hyperbole.
RANGEL: When you're bigger than life and everyone believes you know everything, it really doesn't make any difference what you know when you have that reputation.
TRUMP: I don't want to sound braggadocios but I do have the best buildings in the city and I'm the biggest developer in the city by far. It's not even close.
HEMMER: Several experts dispute this claim but it's very hard to figure out numbers when it comes to Donald Trump.
BRADY: Because so much of his company is private, it's very hard to deduce exactly how much of these properties he necessarily owns. The public part is a very small slice of the pie, which is the casinos.
HEMMER: And right now, the casinos are struggling.
BRADY: If you look at the stock, it has seriously under performed. I think it IPOed in 1995 at $14. It went up to $34. And now, it's basically around $2, $3.
HEMMER: But investors should not worry to hear Donald Trump tell it.
TRUMP: It's a very small part of my holdings but I think the casino company will end up being a very good asset.
HEMMER: According to "Forbes" magazine, the net worth of the world's most popular businessman is estimated at $2.5 billion.
BRADY: Especially the time where people are feeling kind of miserable about business and corporate America, he probably makes them feel pretty good. Here's a guy allegedly is not ripping anybody off and yet, he can have it. Maybe I can have it, too.
HEMMER: And it's not just your typical Wall Street types who aspire to his life style. Rappers like Nellie, who was only a child when Trump first hit it big, pay homage to him in their songs.
SIMMONS: You know, Trump is always like how you living. You're living Trump. I mean I'm doing extremely well. Donald's the epitome of a luxury brand. He is the luxury brand.
HEMMER: Donald Trump has always worked hard and lived clean though despite the images his lifestyle may conjure up. He says he never smoked a cigarette, never had a drink.
TRUMP: I've seen people that I have great respect for and then they end up drunk one night. I could know them for five years. They end up drunk and you lose all of your respect for them.
HEMMER: Drinking has touched Trump's personal life as well.
TRUMP: Well, alcohol has touched my family. My brother, Fred, who was a terrific guy in every way, passed away, and alcohol killed him. It was pure and simple. He died because of alcohol. And I wish the lawyers that went after the tobacco companies would go after the alcohol companies.
HEMMER: Trump's children, despite a privileged upbringing, have stayed on the straight and narrow.
ERIC TRUMP, SON: We were always taught manners. We were never spoiled.
HEMMER: Bad behavior was simply not accepted.
I. TRUMP: Quite frankly, we would have been grounded, you know. And I think there's a lot of he got -- he inherited a lot of that sort of rule with an iron fist mentality from his father. Don't spoil your kids. Make them work for what they get.
TRUMP: I'd always put them on allowance. I'd, you know, do as much as I could to try to make their life as normal as possible. But it's not a normal life.
HEMMER: Trump's brand of parenting may be the very thing that has made "The Apprentice" such a hit.
I. TRUMP: I think what you can see from "The Apprentice" is our father definitely believes in tough love. He's tough, but as seen through these characters, he's interested in them and in the long run, and in teaching them a lesson.
TRUMP: Business in New York is a tough deal.
BURNETT: All the show has done is show who he really is beyond a public persona.
TRUMP: Do you want to go home to be with your family? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no.
BURNETT: He really is very smart, very sassy, very tough, but a warm and caring guy.
TRUMP: What does your mother say? Does she want you to be here or be with them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they want me to be here.
TRUMP: That's great.
CAROLYN KEPCHER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think most people are seeing a different Donald Trump in the show. I hate to say it. He's a -- it's a more humanistic side, I suppose.
ROSS: When one of the contestants says, "I've never been duped." He says, "I've been duped many times." And that's true. He's ready to admit his shortcomings.
HEMMER: And he's ready to laugh at himself.
TRUMP: They always say, "Trump, does he wear a wig?" I said, "I have my own hair." At least they'll see it now in the wind.
HEYMAN: I think he's aware that it's sort of this baroque kind of construction. I mean what is that hair?
DONALD J. TRUMP JR.: It's been that way since I was born. Hey, he's always had -- he's always combed his hair that way. It works for him. He's almost afraid to do anything with it now because it like stands for him. He goes, "What happens if I cut it and everything changes?"
HEMMER: But never mind the hair. As far as Donald Trump is concerned, the real star of the show is the city he's always loved.
TRUMP: One of the things I love so much about "The Apprentice" is that it's a beautiful postcard to New York. It shows the city as it is, as a beautiful, tough, daring and everything else, but a really beautiful place. To me, the most beautiful place there is anywhere in the world.
BRADY: New York has been kind to Donald Trump. The renaissance of this city has also been the renaissance of his business.
HEMMER: And it's a good bet the two will be linked forever, for better or for worse.
SIMMONS: Donald Trump is New York. The song, "New York, New York," he plays in the background, that's his soundtrack.
ZAHN: Donald Trump presides over the live finale of "The Apprentice" on April 15.
Coming up next, from unlikely TV star to unlikely leading man, actor, Kevin Spacey, and the unlikely way he got his start in show biz. That's just ahead.
ANNOUNCER: Think you know your "People" magazine? Well, here are some firsts to think during the break -- who was the first rock star on the cover, first president, first topless person, first sexiest man alive? The answers to all these when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.
ANNOUNCER: After 30 years, "People" magazine has plenty of its own firsts. The first rock star on the cover, Elvis. The first president, Gerald Ford. The first topless person, no, not who you think. Look again, President Ford.
As long as we're on the topic, how about the first sexiest man alive. Sorry, no former presidents here. It was Mel Gibson back in 1985, and the only male heartthrob to take the title twice, Brad Pitt.
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues now with Paula Zahn.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
Kevin Spacey likes to be mysterious and audiences like him best when he defies their expectations. His unique talent, it seems, is that he can disappear into almost any character.
Spacey vanishes into the role of a famous author in his latest movie, "The United States of Leland." But he's lending more than just his presence to the film. He is also producing the project. It's a latest twist in the life of Kevin Spacey. Here's Kyra Phillips.
KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: The greatest trick the devil ever pulled...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's here.
SPACEY: ... was convincing the world...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know he's here.
SPACEY: ...he didn't exist.
DANNY DEVITO, ACTOR: He was really twisted in that movie, Keyser Soze.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keyser Soze!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Keyser Soze.
SPACEY: Who is Keyser Soze?
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's made a name for himself playing unlikable guys.
ROZEN: He's strongest in those roles where there's something smart but also a little snarky about him.
SPACEY: People say I talk too much.
PHILLIPS: The mysterious con man in "The Usual Suspects," the sociopathic killer in the disturbing thriller, "Seven."
SPACEY: You're looking for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!
PHILLIPS: And perhaps, his most memorable role, the miserable and dysfunctional Lester Burnham as the burbonite on the brink of a meltdown in "American Beauty."
SPACEY: Today, I quit my job and then I blackmailed my boss to roll over almost $60,000, and pass the asparagus.
PHILLIPS: That performance landed him a Best Actor Oscar.
SPACEY: I'm still very emotional.
PHILLIPS: It also transformed the 44-year-old Kevin Spacey from respected character actor to a coveted new role...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin Spacey.
PHILLIPS: ...leading man. But it's an unlikely spot for this unHollywood guy.
ROZRN: You didn't look at him and go there's the next Brad Pitt. Kevin spacey had to prove himself based on being just one hell of a good actor.
PHILLIPS: And that he has with two Oscars and a Tony, and a resume that includes more than 50 films. This leading man has proven he can wow audiences without a pretty face. Kevin Spacey has become one of Hollywood's hottest actors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kevin?
SPACEY: There's a lot of pinching going on a lot of the time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, excuse me. Aren't you an actor?
SPACEY: Aren't we all, dear?
PHILLIPS: And now, Spacey can add movie producer to his resume. His Indie film, "The United States of Leland," opens this weekend. The Oscar heavyweight takes on a supporting role this time. He plays a famous author whose son has been charged with murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to write about your son but I don't want to exploit him.
SPACEY: There's no distinction. Good luck with your novel. Maybe I'll pick it up from the supermarket checkout line one of these days.
PHILLIPS: Spacey has perfected the complex and corky. But the actor who has become so famous for his onscreen roles is barely known off screen. Spacey has fought to keep details of his personal life a secret.
SPACEY: Because I haven't been someone who's offered a great deal about my personal life, then you sort of become open to speculation.
PHILLIPS: And he would become even more passionate about keeping his private life private after a painful experience with the press. The enigmatic Spacey says he was a shy guy from the beginning.
He was born Kevin Spacey Fowler in New Jersey on July 26, 1959, one of three kids to mom, a secretary, and dad, a mostly out of work writer. When Kevin was three, they moved to Southern California in search of a better life.
LARRY SUTTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He dad did manual -- sort of aviation manuals. He was a technical writer. And the aviation industry was very big in California.
PHILLIPS: Once in California, they moved constantly, to mostly lower income homes and apartments all over the San Fernando Valley, an area about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles.
BRAD KOPENICK, FRIEND: And his dad had, I think, some health problems and it was hard. Kevin definitely didn't come from much.
PHILLIPS: The upheavals were difficult for Spacey. He became a troubled teenager.
SUTTON: At one point, as most brothers and sisters do, they got into a fight, an argument, and he decided to set fire to her tree house.
SPACEY: I went through like a really brief period of time where I was a bit rambunctious and my dad just me and my brother to military school. I mean just, bang, he wouldn't have it.
PHILLIPS: He attended Northridge Military Academy, but the strict school in the valley didn't help. Spacey got into more mischief.
SUTTON: It was during a boxing match that he was there, his temper got the better of him and they say he picked up a tire and threw it at a fellow student. And for that, he was expelled from the military academy. PHILLIPS: That expulsion turned into a mixed blessing for the 16-year-old. He transferred to Chatsworth High, a public school known for its good drama department.
SPACEY: I found sort of a theater class in school because the guidance counselor suggested that maybe I had a little excessive energy and maybe I could channel it into some more productive path.
PHILLIPS: That path led him to Chatsworth High drama teacher and mentor, Bob Carrelli.
BOB CARRELLI, FRIEND: He had teenage problems. He was able to transcend those problems by getting into other characters.
PHILLIPS: Spacey funneled his frustration and anger into acting. He soon took the lead in all his high school plays.
CARRELLI: There was a quality about Kevin that was unique. And there was something -- he had a maturity. He had a sensitivity. He had intelligence.
PHILLIPS: He perfected the role of Captain von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" and proved hilarious in "Unhealthy To Be Unpleasant." Spacey became obsessed with acting. By his junior year, he was diving into all facets of entertainment.
KOPENICK: He'd go straight home from school and write plays and set up his little manual typewriter. And he was writing scripts for a television show. We thought he was crazy.
PHILLIPS: Spacey was determined. The 17-year-old even took a stab at standup comedy.
ANNOUNCER: It's The Gong Show.
SPACEY: There was -- yes, there was. I actually auditioned for "The Gong Show." It's true. And I didn't get on the show. I was kind of pre-Gonged.
PHILLIPS: But the gong didn't toll on Kevin's career. When we return, Spacey takes a chance of a lifetime, leaving home in search of fame.
KOPENICK: He literally didn't have two cents to rub together.
PHILLIPS: And later, with fame comes controversy. Spacey's private life on the cover of a magazine.
SPACEY: My first response when I saw it was that it was high time to cancel my subscription.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS (voice-over): By the late 70's, Spacey had become a star in L.A. area high school theaters. But the city was full of teen idols, teens who'd become breakfast club favorites like Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez.
KOPENICK: When our friends hit it around here in L.A., it was brat pack time and everybody was famous by the time they were 17.
PHILLIPS: Spacey wanted to stand out of the pack. After graduating from high school, he headed east in search of a different audience. Before he hit Broadway, Spacey attended Manhattan's prestigious Julliard School, a suggestion from a high school friend, who later became a movie star himself.
SUTTON: Val Kilmer said, "You know, if you really want to be serious as an actor, you should go to Julliard." Kevin Spacey took that advice and went to school.
PHILLIPS: Impatient to get on stage, Spacey dropped out of Julliard early but roles did not come quickly. He struggled for years.
KOPENICK: I, one time, saw him on the streets of New York with his dog. And I don't think he could buy the dog hamburger. He literally didn't have two cents to rub together.
PHILLIPS: Spacey even tried standup. He realized he had a gift for impressions. Later, he'd try some on prime time TV, Christopher Walken...
SPACEY: Yes, I saw the little thing you did on Saturday night. It was funny, you know, ha, ha.
PHILLIPS: ... and Marlon Brando.
SPACEY: Now, like Marlon, I should kiss you on the lips for this wonderful experience that I've had with you tonight.
PHILLIPS: But Spacey's takeoffs of his celebrity friends didn't gel on stage. He realized he wasn't going to make it as a standup comic.
SPACEY: It's the hardest job in the world. And I just remember back at some incredible times and some of the worst times, you know, when you think it's going well, but then you realize that it's not.
PHILLIPS: Twenty-two-year-old Spacey didn't give up though. He got a break when he hit off with a New York public theater producer.
SUTTON: He basically worked as the Xerox guy, the copy machine operator for Joe Papp. He also got him coffee.
PHILLIPS: But those mundane tasks eventually led to small roles in New York Shakespeare Festival productions.
SPACEY: The first play I did out of Julliard was a production of Henry IV Part I in Central Park and I played like a spear carrier and a messenger.