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Profiles of Actors Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Spacey

Aired November 27, 2004 - 11:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning everyone, I'm Betty Nguyen at the CNN Center. Here are the stories now in the news.
A victory for the opposition in the Ukraine's controversial presidential elections. The country's parliament approved a non- binding measure to annul run-off election results. Some allege election fraud. We, of course, will have the latest from Kiev in our next hour.

Interim Iraqi president Iyad Allawi says he is not convinced postponing Iraq's elections is a good idea. This despite calls from some political factions. They want the January elections delayed out of security concerns.

The Coast Guard is busy helping clean up a crude oil spill in the Delaware River near Philadelphia. Portions of the river are closed. Some 30,000 galloons spilled from a tanker last night as it prepared to dock at a facility. The Coast Guard says environmental damage is -- quote -- "minimal."

Well, coming up in an hour on "CNN LIVE SATURDAY," we will look at the concerns surrounding the elections in Iraq. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" starts right now.



KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: I want it all. I want night clubs. I want Vegas, movies, TV.


ANNOUNCER: He's one of Hollywood's leading men who got to the top with unconventional style.


LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Kevin Spacey had to prove himself based on being just one hell of a good actor.


ANNOUNCER: He made a name for himself on Broadway after tough times in the big city.


BRAD KOPENICK, FRIEND: I one time saw him on the streets of New York with this dog, and I don't think he could buy the dog a hamburger.

SPACEY: Oops, where'd my job go? I quit.


ANNOUNCER: He opened himself up on screen in movies like "American Beauty," but he wanted to keep his personal life closed.


SPACEY: The less that you, as an audience, know about me, the better I can do my job.


ANNOUNCER: Now, the enigmatic actor is lending his own voice to the role of legendary singer, Bobby Darin.


SPACEY: It's a version of Bobby Darin. It's my version of Bobby Darin.


ANNOUNCER: Director, producer and leading man, Kevin Spacey. Then, he's the Irish born actor who pumped new life into 007, but he's turning in his license to kill.


ROZEN: We will not be seeing a Bond film in time for Christmas next year. No one is in that tuxedo yet.


ANNOUNCER: Behind the superstar, a family man who lost love to tragedy and found it again.


PIERCE BROSNAN, ACTOR: Curl up and go on, no, you raise your head up and get on with it.


ANNOUNCER: Now, he's getting on with life beyond Bond in his new movie, "After the Sunset".


BROSNAN: I had the greatest time working on this picture. This one had character, love and comedy.


ANNOUNCER: What's ahead for Pierce Brosnan? Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. Oscar winner Kevin Spacey is famous for throwing himself into his movies, his characters. But for years, the one role he wanted the most eluded him, at least until now. With his new film, "Beyond the Sea," Spacey has finally brought the life of 60's crooner and actor Bobby Darin to the big screen. Here's Kyra Philips.


SPACEY: The greatest trick the devil ever pulled...


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: He saw Keyser Soze.

SPACEY: Who is Keyser Soze?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 snarkey about him.

SPACEY: People say I talk too much.

PHILLIPS: The mysterious conman in "The Usual Suspects," the psychopathic killer in the disturbing thriller "Se7en".

SPACEY: They're looking for me.

PHILLIPS: And perhaps his most memorable role, the miserable and dysfunctional Lester Burnham, a suburbanite on the brink of a meltdown in "American Beauty".

SPACEY: Today, I quit my job and then I blackmailed my boss for almost $60 million. Pass the asparagus.

PHILLIPS: That performance landed him a Best Actor Oscar.

SPACEY: I'm still very emotional.

PHILLIPS: It also transformed the 45-year-old Kevin Spacey from respected character actor to a coveted new role...


PHILLIPS: ...leading man. But it's an unlikely spot for this un-Hollywood 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.



SPACEY: There's a lot of pinching going on a lot of the time. I can only give you love that last forever.

PHILLIPS: Now, the actor is set to release his latest movie, "Beyond The Sea," a bio pic about legendary crooner, Bobby Darin.

SPACEY: And that's all.

PHILLIPS: The film has also been a labor of love for Spacey who not only starred in it but also served as its director and producer.

SPACEY: It's my version of Bobby Darin and I'm delighted that we've gotten close enough to honor him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't I tell you, you're playing the culver.

SPACEY: It was risky. There were some who didn't think it was going to work, but you know I kept saying to everybody, look, the only way we can do this movie about Bobby Darin is if we're brash. You know this is a guy who was brash and brave and the only things that are really interesting in life are the things that are just on the edge anyway. So yes, we walked the edge.

PHILLIPS: 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.

KOPENICK: 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: And 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 sent 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 while 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 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." He never cracked under pressure.

CARRELLI: At the end of the play, he opens the desk drawer and the bomb goes off, and it singed his hair, his eyebrows and his fake mustache. And we thought for a while that it may have killed him.

PHILLIPS: 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.





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 again. 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.

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