Spacey first saw the script of Albino
Alligator in October 1994. He had been looking around for a
script to direct for some time. At that time it was in a very
different form. In the original draft, everyone died. "I
mean everyone died" Spacey said, "Even the TV
reporter died." Spacey then met with the writer and
developed the script. Part of that development was to explore and
emphasise the moral dilemmas faced by the characters,
particularly the question of how far a person is prepared to go
to stay alive, and what they are prepared to live with.
Albino Alligator got an immediate
green light and was shot in 34 days with a budget of US$ 5
million. The cast and crew did the film "for love, not
money." It was labelled an "indie" project. Spacey
says that "independence" in that sense is something of
a state of mind. However, he believes there will always be a
place for independents to make smaller-budget, but interesting
and provocative films.
The film certainly has violent
content, but Spacey says that he wanted to show the audience that
"real violence has consequences". To that end, he
wanted to treat the violence realistically, but not to actually
show it on screen. So there are only two or three scenes of
depicted violence in Albino Alligator. The rest of the violence
is implied by the use of sound - or left to the imagination.
In a reference to some big-budget
Hollywood productions, Spacey noted that some had treated
violence as a cartoon. "I mean, if 37 people get blown up in
the first reel, it is a joke, and is presented as such."
SID SAID . . .
In making the film, Spacey sought
the advice of the legendary Sidney Lumet. He saw parallels with
Lumetís classic film, Twelve Angry Men, which like Albino
Alligator, takes place essentially in one room. Although budget
restrictions prevented the use of some of the techniques used by
Lumet in his film - such as building the set on wheels, so that
as the film progressed, the walls could literally close in on the
characters - Spacey was able to gain valuable tips from Lumet on creating an atmosphere of claustrophobia.
Drawing on his extensive theatre
experience, Spacey first rehearsed his cast and then shot the bar
scenes, in which the majority of the film takes place, in
chronological sequence. The experience was, he says, a pleasant
one. Next to acting in the theatre, directing Albino Alligator
was his "most satisfying experience".
The transition from actor to
director did not create much difficulty for Spacey. He said that
as an actor, he always tried to understand what a writer was
trying to achieve with a script. As director, he adopted the same
approach, but with the larger task of having to deliver the
vision of the script in its totality.
Spacey has just wrapped shooting
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, directed by Clint
Eastwood (pictured). He describes Eastwood as "one of the most Zen
directors Iíve ever worked with" and came to appreciate
that a director doesnít have to say a lot provided he is
"speaking your language".
ACTING WITH OZ BOYS &
On Midnight..., Spacey worked
with Australian actor Jack Thompson. He has also recently
completed L.A. Confidential with Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe (pictured). Of
course, he has also worked with Judy Davis (on The Ref). He
therefore has something of a history of working with Australian
Spacey praised the work of Pearce
and Crowe on L.A. Confidential, saying that the pair will be
"known by the rest of the world" after the film is
Given his associations with
Australians over the years, Spacey said he had wanted to come
here for some time, but had not had the opportunity. Asked about
possibly making a film in Australia, Spacey said that he
hadnít found the right script yet, but it
"wouldnít take much" to entice him back.
Spacey, of course, has a
reputation for playing what he describes as "dark"
characters. Responding to a question about whether he would
"ever play a nice guy", Spacey explained that he had 16
years in theatre and film playing characters other than those in
the "dark area" which had become prominent in that last
few years. Spacey (who had something of a comic turn in The Ref)
says that he would like to play comedy again, but the trouble was
that much of the comedy in scripts he had seen was at "such
a low level". As a result, he had passed on projects which
ended up being very successful financially. He would however keep
looking for the right script.
Whether Spacey gets the
opportunity to do that is rather doubtful. He says that he would
like to pursue his first love, theatre. He is soon to appear in a
London production of The Iceman Cometh. But he would like to
direct plays. Spacey describes it as "very difficult to get
plays going in the US". Notwithstanding, he says that he may
stop doing films in 3 to 5 years in order to direct theatre full
time. The commitment required to do so is such that Spacey feels
he could not do it "piecemeal."
WOULD PLAY A FLY . . .
Discussing his awards, Spacey
said that the important thing was to acknowledge and honour the
people who gave them by not doing things that demean them. He
doesnít want to be one of the actors about whom people say
"Whatever happened to..."
Spacey says that, apart from
Lumet, he particularly admires the work of Stanley Kramer and
John Huston. Asked how he felt about the comparisons being made
between Albino Alligator and some of the films of Quentin
Tarantino, he said that he thought people tended to reference too
much, and that a film should be discussed on its own merits.
He named other directors with
whom he would like to work as Martin Scorsese and Stanley
Kubrick. "I would play a fly for him" he said of the
latter. So far as other actors are concerned Spacey said that he
would like to work with Judy Davis again (pictured in Absolute Power), Meryl Streep, William
Hurt and Mare Winningham, with whom he had gone to high school.
Kevin Spacey, while in Australia
to promote Albino Alligator is also taking a little rest and
recreation in north Queensland.