Hard as it may have been to imagine such a turn of events back in 2004, Kevin Spacey has become a British national treasure in the course of his decade-long tenure as the artistic director of London theatre the Old Vic. So there is a definite sense of sadness in theatrical circles that the tenure of man who has done so much to help revitalize the London stage is drawing to a close.
But, last night, in an interview with the BBC, he moved to reassure Londoners that he’s not planning to “get on a plane and fuck off,” never to darken London’s doors again.
He made the comments in an interview recorded and broadcast (unbleeped) yesterday, which presenter Jeremy Paxman prefaced with the warning that it contained some “choice Anglo-Saxon phrases.”
Later that evening, Spacey reminded audiences why he has become one of the modern heroes of the London stage, when he broke off from a monologue to upbraid a member of the audience, whose phone was ringing.
Spacey was performing in the play Clarence Darrow when a mobile phone began ringing in the stalls. After several seconds, he finally yelled, “If you don’t answer that, I will!”—and received a round of applause for his intervention.
Last night’s impromptu stand against the menace of the mobile has only added to the lustre of the departing legend.
On the interview with BBC’s Newsnight program yesterday, he said, “I’m never going to leave. It’s not like I am going to get on a plane and fuck off. I will always be a part of this country and I will always have a place in London and it’s a huge part of my life.”
Asked why he thought the best writing was currently on TV, Spacey, who has reached a new generation of audiences in his starring role as Frank Underwood in Netflix’s presidential satire House of Cards, said, “Because movies stopped making drama. The ground dried up. Studios started to concentrate on tent-pole movies, comic-book characters, and brilliantly directed character drama moved to a very fertile ground which is television.”
Speaking about the veracity or otherwise of House of Cards, he said, “I’ve had politicans say to me, ‘It’s closer to the way it is than you could ever imagine’…That depresses me because it makes me think people don’t want to go into public service. And public service is an incredibly important thing.”
Asked how Frank Underwood would deal with President Obama’s opponents in Congress who he said attempt to block his every move, he said Underwood would “kill a lot of them.”
He also hinted that House of Cards “may continue beyond a third season.”
Even the hard-to-please critic Quentin Letts said of last night’s performance, “Some of my fellow critics were sniffy when Mr Spacey arrived in London in 2004. I resisted the groupthink. The London stage has been fortunate to have him and this cracking performance, despite a so-so play, sees him at the top of his art. Exit Kevin the king.”