Birth Name: Kevin Spacey Fowler
Date of Birth: July 26, 1959
Born in South Orange, New Jersey, Kevin Spacey's family moved to the West coast when he was a baby and raised him in Los Angeles. A self described "little terror," he was sent to Northridge Military Academy after burning down his sister's tree house. Although he won the Leadership Award, Spacey was expelled for throwing a tire at a classmate during a boxing match.
Subsequently enrolling at Chatsworth High School in the San Fernando Valley, he was advised by a guidance counselor to channel his "excessive energy" into acting. During his senior year he not only starred in the school's productions of The Sound of Music, but he managed to fit singing in the choir into his schedule as well. He and his friends would cut class and head over the hill to the NuArt Theater, a revival movie house in West L.A. He also made the comedy club circuit, where he excelled at impressions.
After giving Los Angeles Valley College a go, he decided, with Val Kilmer's encouragement, to enroll in the drama program at Juilliard. Anxious to work, and convinced that he'd be thrown out eventually anyway, he left in 1981 after two years, sans diploma.
He then joined the New York Shakespeare Festival, followed by his Broadway debut in Ibsen's Ghosts playing Liv Ullman's son. Going on to do Shakespeare, Chekhov, and O'Neill, his transition from New York to Hollywood began with his film debut in Heartburn.
Spacey periodically goes back to the theater (winning a Tony in 1991 for his performance as Uncle Louie in Neil Simon
's Lost In Yonkers
), and he appeared on stage in The Iceman Cometh
at the Almeida Theater in London in spring of 1998.
Spacey really hit the big time when he pulled down the Best Actor Oscar for his role in The
Usual Suspects. "I used to get: 'Aren't you the guy...? Didn't I go to high school with you?'"
he says about how people who would come up to him on the street before he won the Oscar. "Now,
suddenly, I feel like I live in a small town. People keep congratulating me, which I'm not quite
used to. I keep thinking, 'For what? Oh, right.'"
He was honored once again with an Oscar for Best Actor in 2000 for his work in American Beauty (1999). Despite taking on the job of Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre in London, England in 2003, he continues to work in films, including playing the evil Lex Luther in the blockbuster Superman Returns (2006) opposite newcomer Brandon Routh and Jason Bateman's evil boss in Horrible Bosses (2011).