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Museum Of The Moving Image salutes Kevin Spacey (Exclusive Interviews)

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Last week, on April 9, Kevin Spacey was honored by The Museum of the Moving Image at 583 Park. It was a star studded affair. Notables who joined Spacey at this event included Samuel L. Jackson, Beau Willimon, Dana Brunetti, Penn Badgley, Kristin Chenoweth, Kate Bosworth, Kim Cattrall, Tony Bennett, Museum of the Moving Image Director Carl Goodman, President, Sony Pictures Classics, Michael Barker, and President, Sony Pictures Television, Steve Mosko, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Bloomberg, to name a few. Examiner.com was on the red carpet. Check out our exclusive interviews below:

Check out what Kevin Spacey told us on the red carpet.

How do you feel about Francis’ behavior in the series?

I feel fine about it, I don’t judge the characters that I play because I don’t think you can do that as an actor by having your particular opinion on your sleeve. My job is to play characters and not judge, and let the chips fall where they may.

Do you relate to your characters?

I relate to anybody. I don’t have to be like them or agree with them or think like them ... I think this is actually one of the things I’ve always found humanizing about being an actor because when you are forced by your very profession to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to think like them, it’s a lot harder than you expect. A lot harder to be tough on other people because they have a different circumstance and different shoes than you do. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about acting.

Is there anything you find out about Americans when you spend so much time away?

No I think there has been some value in having a perspective on country but I don’t judge the country. I mean there’s many eccentricities there as there are here but I love coming back and in fact in the last two years, I’ve been back more than I’ve been able to in the last ten. "House of Cards" is the first job I took which took me away for more than eight weeks. I never did a job that took me more than eight weeks when I was full time at the Old Vic, now I have a year there so I have a little bit more time to spend away.

What does this honor mean to you?

I’m a kid from South Orange, New Jersey and I started out in this town. Theater has been a big part of my life and even though this is about the moving image, I know all the experiences that I’ve had in this city doing theater have gone into teaching me what I needed to learn to be able to get up in front of a camera. So I think of all the experiences that I’ve had and how grateful I am to the many people who took me under their wings long before I believed in myself. And I’m very grateful, it’s very humbling to be here tonight.

How has Jack Lemmon been such a big inspiration to you?

Jack was the most the single most important mentor in my life and someone I met when I was very young and someone who became a colleague and someone who I was able to be mentored by and he was like a father figure to me. And there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about Jack and what he’d say if he were here.

Dana Brunetti also reflected on Kevin.

When was the first time you met Kevin Spacey?

I met him with friends out in New York one night and started working as his assistant two months later.

How did you feel when you became president of Trigger Street Productions?

At first I didn’t want it and he sort of tricked me into taking over and running our office here in New York and he knew that I didn’t want to move out to California and so he asked me to come out for two weeks to help him restructure the company after the guy who was running it there left. And then he left and said, “Good luck, the company’s yours,” and basically brought me to the side of a building and told me to climb.

What new projects are you working on?

Well "50 Shades of Grey" is in post now and we have the Jameson First Shot film series that we start in June that we’re doing it with Uma [Thurman] this year, and hopefully my next project that will go into production, "House of Cards" starts in June, season three, and hopefully after that will be "Evil Knievel" with Channing Tatum.

What do you admire about Kevin?

He’s one of my best friends so I don’t admire him the same way as other people do. He’s a very talented and creative happy go lucky guy and just a good person all around.

Chazz Palmintieri came out to support Kevin.

What makes Kevin one of the great actors that you’ve worked with?

He’s always on time.

What was it like working with him in "The Usual Suspects"?

He’s witty and honest and few actors are honest.

Penn Badgley also came out to show support.

How was it like working with him on "Margin Call"?

It was a pretty incredible experience. It was just so surreal and it made me feel very comfortable, he made us all feel very comfortable and he’s so accomplished. He reciprocates, he doesn’t just take. It was fun.

What do you admire about him?

I’d say his youthful spirit just works. He’s wise in his age but he’s got the youthful ambition like a beginner which I don’t know that I’d seen before because I haven’t worked with all the greats but I mean he’s one of them.

Do you hope to work with him in the future?

What projects are you working on?

I have a film I’m working on in May that I’m going to be shooting in the city. I can’t really give much about it but it’s a good little independent film and I’ll hope that it will come out eventually.

Do you hope to make your own film eventually?

Yeah in time. That’s a big undertaking and I don’t know about it. At the moment if it’s anything else I’m looking at, it’s music.

Kim Catrall had so many wonderful things to say about Kevin.

Are you a fan of "House of Cards"?

Yes! The original and the remake.

Which do you like better?

I like them both.

Do you feel that Kevin’s Underwood is perhaps more evil than the original?

They were both pretty evil but Kevin is more fun who kind of encourages you on ... But they were both excellent.

Where have you worked with Kevin before?

I just worked with him last year at the Old Vic where he’s the artistic director which is one of the greatest theaters of all time. Richard Burton, Lawrence Olivier got their start there and worked throughout their careers. And he asked me four years ago to do a play called “Sweet Bird of Youth,” which is about a big star, a woman, who is no longer and she’s come back to this small town with a man from where she came from and wants to reconnect with his young girlfriend but she doesn’t know that. It’s a very dramatic, hard hitting play and Kevin’s done perfect work and seduced me over a long period of time to get me to do it because I was terrified.

Do you hope to work with him in the future?

I sure hope so. Maybe I’ll do something on "House of Cards" or maybe he’ll do something on "Sensitive Skin."

What do you admire about him?

When we were both very young actors, we worked with Jack Lemmon who’s a great actor and he really influenced both of us - we’re the same age and what he told both of us, which I found out from Kevin separately was that he told us both to have longevity in our careers as actors as he has and that we should take chances. And I think that’s what propelled most of Kevin and I to keep reinventing by playing different kinds of characters and producing and directing and really insuring that we can grow and challenge ourselves and his spirit is always with you.

Tell me about your executive producing job or any upcoming projects.

"Sensitive Skins" has always been a passion project for me and I think I started eight years ago. I’ve never seen a story like this before - it was funny and ironic and thought provoking about a period in our lives which is never a joke and I thought about it the way I felt about Second City in that it was absolutely fresh and new. And I wanted to make it and a lot of people were interested but I couldn’t get the right tone because with Kevin and I, hopefully we have taken the original and we have taken what was there - he in "House of Cards" and I in "Sensitive Skins" - but we also made it our own and that’s the tricky part of it because some people would make it completely new and others would stick in good faith with it. We I think both of us are very smart in connecting with great filmmakers and really bring them out of patience with a North American audience and accept it and enjoy from different routes.

Catherina Gioino contributed reporting.

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