Though known for being tight-lipped about his private life, earlier this month it became no secret Kevin Spacey loves Mexican food. So it was no surprise when the two-time ®Oscar winner chose to meet for our interview at a quiet table in the back of Casa de Papitas, or “House of Chips,” a Hollywood-area nacho bar nicknamed “The Mexican Brown Derby” because of its celebrity clientele. I crossed the busy dining area past the nacho bar, which was nearly depleted after a visit from Brad and Angelina’s family, and saw Spacey at a small table in an alcove taking a selfie with a Mariachi band member.
Admittedly star-struck, I only nodded.
“I figured as much, because this handshake is lasting way too long and is becoming awkward,” he said, then paused. “See what I just did there?”
He then graciously offered me a seat before settling into his, legs crossed, one arm resting on the chair-back, leaving the other free to rummage through the chips basket. It was clearly my signal to start the interview, which I opened with the question I’m sure is on every LAP reader’s mind:
“Why did you agree to an interview with us and be a guest on our upcoming podcast? I mean, it seems one would be bad enough.”
Spacey smiled and examined a chip, then popped it into his mouth. “Did you ever see the movie Albino Alligator?” he asked, referring to his directorial debut, which grossed $339,000 and cost $6 million to make.
“I think we all did,” I said. “Everyone at LAP thought it was great.”
“Bingo,” said Spacey.
“Yes, but Woody said he hasn’t seen it yet because he can’t find the remote,” said Spacey. “I’m not sure if he’s joking.”
“Well, given that your character, Frank Underwood, is essentially a manipulative and conniving politician, are you wanting Woody Allen to create a similar character for you in one of his movies?”
“Why not?” said Spacey. “Imagine what I could have done with Annie Hall?”
“I suppose that’s true,” I said. “Actually, I heard there were several roles you actively pursued but didn’t get, in spite of your two Academy Awards.”
Spacey grabbed another chip and swirled it in the salsa. “I think the only role that I was truly disappointed in not getting was Sandra Dee in Beyond the Sea,” he said, then took a bite from his chip. “Considering I co-wrote it, directed it, co-produced and starred in it, you’d think I would’ve had some pull.”
“Is it true your first professional stage appearance was in 1981 as a spear carrier in a New York Shakespeare Festival?” I asked.
“Yes. I was very nervous and practiced for weeks by carrying a hockey stick with me wherever I went,” said Spacey. “In the end, it paid off and I won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Spear Carrier. Plus crime dropped by 67 percent in my neighborhood that month.”
Before I could ask my next question, a waiter approached the table for our order. Spacey, noted for his Hollywood impressions, chose to forgo the nacho bar and order from the small menu as Clint Eastwood.
“I know what you’re thinking,” said Spacey, who squinted and began speaking through clenched teeth. “Will he order the number six chimichanga platter or only five. In all this confusion I sort of lost track myself. So I gotta ask myself: Do I feel lucky?”
“Well — DO you, PUNK?!?” I chimed in, then immediately regretted it.
The waiter gave me a nervous glance.
“A man’s got to know his limitations,” said Spacey.
“Right. Sorry,” I said, and heard the waiter call me “puto” under his breath as he turned to leave. After another awkward pause, I smiled and offered my final question to Spacey, who politely smiled back then glanced at his watch. “There’s been a lot of speculation about your preference when it comes to…”
“Stop,” said Spacey. “I know where you’re going with this and I’ll tell you right now that I’m not pimping my personal life out for publicity. I’m not interested in doing it. Never will do it. Everybody has a right to a private life.”
I cleared my throat, which had turned to sand. “I wasn’t going to ask that.”
“Really? Oh… sorry. Then what was your question?”
“In a remake of Albino Alligator, would you prefer to cast unknowns or movie critics as the hostages?”
Spacey thought about this a moment. “Are we using blanks or live rounds?”
After finishing our lunch, Spacey gave me a hearty handshake and thoughtfully paid the bill despite my objections. I thanked him and, as an afterthought, asked him if his role as President Frank Underwood has given him any real political ambitions about becoming one of the most powerful men in the world.
“You mean I’m not already?” he asked.
He has a point.
Want more Kevin Spacey? He just happens to be our guest on the next Over the Line Show with Jack and Joe podcast! Coming to Long Awkward Pause June 1st!