- Davos 2016 - An Insight, An Idea with Kevin Spacey
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Thanks for joining us. This is Kevin Spacey.
New York post has designated Kevin Spacey as the King of Davos. Starting with politics. What would Frank Underwood's advice be to the candidates?Frank Underwood would find it amusing, like I do. We generally get it right, eventually. The campaign tactics are not new. But it is very similar to George Wallace's campaign in 1968. The discourse not particularly enlightening, a little depressing. Did house of cards change your view of politics and politicians?No
I have been involved in politics my whole life. I have been around a lot of politics. But its not just politics. Even BBC has some 'Underwood'-iness.Tell us about your story. How did you get into acting?Somewhere around the age of 8 I knew. My mother introduced me to a lot of books, theater, culture. I believed the characters I saw in the movies. I realized I could make my mother laugh by doing Jimmy Stewart impressions.
I knew I had this dream very young. In Junior High school, my guidance counselor recommended taking elective courses. I took wood shop and drama. I created a western scene. Everyone applauded and laughed. The drama teacher led me toward a workshop run by Jack Lemmon.
We had to do scenes. Jack Lemmon watched the scene and came up to me and asked me to study to be an actor. 12 years later, I found out that Jack Lemmon was coming to Broadway. At 26, I wanted to play one of his sons. I didn't get an audition, I had to sneak my way in. I prepared for the audition and won the role. He became a great mentor. We ended up doing three films together. You gave a speech recently about storytelling, the business of storytelling. How do you think about enabling any person or organization to tell a story?I think we are all in the business of storytelling. The people who move us, even temporarily, we remember. Is it changing, storytelling? A lot of your projects are about long form storytelling. Why?Because a) I believe audiences are very intelligent b) and I believe audiences have remarkable attention spans. People want good stories. If we give them great content, they will watch it on whatever platform it is on. More complexity is possible in a longer story. Is there a swing back from shorter form to longer format?I think there is room for all of it. People think your choices are somewhat contrarian. Why did you get a movie studio?I will be on the other side of the table for the first time in my career.
We also believe there was a kind of wheelhouse we had our success in. Films under 50 million dollar budgets, the studios have abandoned those films. That is the reason many artistes have gone to television.
I believe there is a vacuum. We want to give audiences such kinds of stories. At this moment in time, that niche is a great way to take on the responsibility of running a studio. When you look at a project, how do you decide to take it up?I want to read a story and if I am moved by it. If I feel it is worth telling, I will make it. Let us discuss the role of technology. There is a lot of interest, but the storytelling does not entirely work. How do you see this unfolding?I am a believer in technology. I think it will be revolutionary. Think of sports. Virtual reality will end up being the natural home of having the theater experience.
I think it is going to become simpler. I also think of it in terms of education.
The acting profession is a very humanizing profession. I am forced to step into someone else's shoes, to think differently. Its that much harder to not have empathy for people with circumstances different from your own. VR is going to be a great empathy machine. People would have said the same thing about televisionIt has done a lot of it. It is a great instrument of that. How do you ensure that the technology has that edifying capacity?You have to have the right people in charge. The decision-makers. When news has to compete with entertainment, it is no longer news. What is your greatest film of all time?Doctor Strangelove still holds up.
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