Award-winning actor and film director Kevin Spacey was born on July 26, 1959 in New Jersey. He graduated valedictorian of his class in Chatsworth High School, where he started the school’s production of The Sound of Music. He attempted a career as a stand-up comedian for several years, before studying drama at the Juillard School in New York. After two years of training, he dropped out and signed up with the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Kevin Spacey’s first professional stage appearance was as a messenger in Henry VI, part 1 in 1981. The following year, he had his first Broadway appearance in a production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts. He was also featured on television, and began as a senator in the second season premiere of Crime Story. In 1991, he won a Tony Award for his stage portrayal of Uncle Louie in the Broadway hit Lost in Yonkers.
His film career began with a small part in 1986’s Heartburn, and attracted media attention for his villainous role Mel Profitt on the TV series Wiseguy. He continued this string of dark roles in Glengarry Glen Ross in 1992, Swimming with Sharks in 1994, and the famously creepy Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects. This earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He was also in David Fincher’s thriller Se7en with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. In 1996, he was in Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard.
Kevin Spacey made his directorial debut with Albino Alligator in 1996, a drama well-received by audiences. He returned to acting with a role in L.A. Confidential, where he achieved more success. In October 1999, Spacey received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, just four months after the opening of American Beauty, in which he played Lester Burnham. He was given a Best Actor Oscar for his performance.
In 2003 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre Company. During this time, he directed numerous plays. In 2005, he made his UK Shakespearean debut in the title role Richard II. The next year, he reprised his streak of dark roles in the blockbuster Superman Returns as the antagonist Lex Luthor.