Kevin Spacey has been the man about Davos this week, during his first-ever trip to the World Economic Forum. An ambassador for cybersecurity firm WISeKey, which announced a new financing facility on Wednesday, he’s attended events, chatted about technology and Donald Trump, and been spotted at the Hotel Europe’s bar (crooning from atop the piano). On Friday, he sat down for a session entitled “An Insight, An Idea with Kevin Spacey.” The conversation ranged from a trip through his early days to the advancement of Virtual Reality. It also naturally touched on politics given Spacey’s House Of Cards alter-ego as President Frank Underwood; and how the newly-appointed Chairman of Relativity sees the studio’s future.
What advice would Frank Underwood offer to the current real-life presidential candidates? “In the first place,” he said, “I think that Donald Tr… I mean Frank Underwood would look at this particular year and find it as amusing as I do.” But, he added to attendees at the conference in Switzerland, “At the end of the day, the United States has time and again — despite sometimes when we think there’s some crazy s*** going down — we generally get it right eventually.”
Saying his relationship to politics has not changed since he started making House Of Cards, because he’s been “sort of involved” his whole life, Spacey noted what he loves about the Netflix series “is when I talk to politicians and some will say it’s completely fictional and others will say it’s closer to the truth than anyone would like to know.”
The Oscar-winning actor has worn many hats in his career, including becoming Artistic Director of London’s Old Vic Theatre in the early 2000s. Spacey was asked about making that decision. “They thought I was f***ing out of my mind,” he said, twice.
So why the recent decision to run Relativity? “Because I’ll get to make films. Because for the first time in my entire career, I’ll be on the other side of the table.” Spacey said he’s spent his life trying to convince people, for example, to hire certain writers and then going through a lengthy process of back-and-forth. “Now, Dana (Brunetti) and I are going to be able to go, ‘Hire that actor, hire that director. Let’s go make this movie.’”
The new studio chief says he and partner Brunetti, who will be Relativity’s president, have “a wheelhouse where we’ve had success in films made for under $50M. Studios have abandoned those films but I think there’s a big reason why most great filmmakers, actors and writers have gone to television. The ground is very fertile for character-driven drama. And there is a vacuum in independent film for character-driven drama” at those budgets. “We want to say ‘Come to Relativity, we’re very interested in giving audiences those kind of stories.’”
Spacey pointed to his and Brunetti’s successes with producing films like Captain Phillips and The Social Network and said they have found “a niche we think at this moment in time is a great way to take on the responsibility of running a studio.” He’s also looking forward to going back to reading material just to find a great story. “I like the innocence of that. I don’t like all the stuff that gets in the way of being able to judge something on the page.”
Spacey also talked about Virtual Reality, the advancement of which he’s been following closely. “I think it will end up being the natural home for capturing the living theater. It will work in film, maybe not an entire film,” but perhaps a handful of scenes. Also, in keeping with the theme of Davos which is committed to improving the state of the world, Spacey suggested it will be a key medium in advancing education. “The classroom is probably the single space we all know that hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. But imagine if we can bring the best teachers into the classroom?” and see kids travel virtually to “the bottom of the ocean or the Globe Theatre or the Sydney Opera House?”