So the third season of House of Cards just dropped on Netflix. If you love Frank Underwood as much as we do, you’ll probably burn through those 13 new episodes by around mid-afternoon Saturday. And then you’ll be craving more Spacey.
Which is why we’ve rounded up nine underrated/under-the-radar gems from the Kevin Spacey vault. Call them a Deep Spacey Nine, if you will. In some of them he’s cocky. In others he’s creepy. In still others he’s a hilarious jackass.
But in all of them he’s onscreen and saying things and making faces, which is the important thing when it comes to Spacey. Enjoy.
The Big Kahuna
Sure, the video is a little dark and the audio is low, but you get the idea. Adapted from a stage play called Hospitality Suite, The Big Kahuna is about three industrial-lubricant salesmen hanging out in a hotel room at a major convention, waiting for the arrival of a prospective customer. So yeah, not a lot of location changes. Or a super-sexy premise. But Spacey is on fire in some moments, as you’ll see in this clip. “I wouldn’t trust the guy to wax my car.” Keep elevating that dialogue, Kev.
Glengarry Glen Ross
The thing that’s great about Spacey is he can play powerful (see: House of Cards) and he can also play meek (see: most of American Beauty). In David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, he does the latter, as the weak office manager of a group of struggling, sleazy salesmen. (Just how weak is he? Watch Al Pacino tear him a new one right here.) But he has one moment to shine, when he famously tells all the guys to take a break for a midday meal, above. Spacey practically sings these lines. (By the way, if you’ve never seen this movie, stop what you’re doing and watch it. It’ll help you function better in society the rest of your life.)
Editor’s note: Watch this flick for free at Break.com/Movies! (Today’s the last day!)
Directed by the great/prolific Daniel Petrie, Rocket Gibraltar is the first non-TV movie featuring Macaulay Culkin and one of the last films in the legendary career of Burt Lancaster. But sandwiched in there is a performance by a young-ish Kevin Spacey as a smart-aleck houseguest. If you watch it in slow-mo you can actually see the hair disappearing.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil
Hey, remember that Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder comedy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil? It’s about a blind man and a deaf man who work together to thwart a trio of thieves. (Ah, the ’80s.) And… Kevin Spacey is in it. He plays one of the thieves. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for him.) Here he is with a villainous mustache and British accent.
In 1989, they made eight episodes of a TV series called Unsub that was probably too far ahead of its time. (Or just poorly executed.) It was about a team of FBI forensics experts that investigates serial killers and other violent criminals. Kevin Spacey was the star of an epsisode called “Clean Slate,” about a germaphobe math teacher/murderer (get it??). Spacey also plays the guy’s deathbed-ridden brother. Two Spacey performances for the price of one! This clip is amazing. It proves two things: 1) Spacey paid his dues; and 2) Spacey never phoned in a performance.
Swimming with Sharks
As a precursor to his dick boss character in Horrible Bosses, Spacey plays a dick Hollywood producer in the cult classic Swimming with Sharks. Watch him masterfully de-pants Frank Whaley in this scene. (It’s funny: The older I get, the more I see Spacey’s point here, in a J.K. Simmons in Whiplash sort of way.) Also notice the appearance of a young Benicio Del Toro as dog-boy Rex.
Editor’s note: Watch this flick for free at Break.com/Movies!
This clip has everything. Kevin Spacey swinging his dick around and yelling at a room full of dudes. David Morse dropping f-bombs and wearing a mustache. That guy from The West Wing. And in the background—holy shit!—isn’t that the alcoholic, wife-beating college professor from Boyhood? This movie also features Sam Jackson (obviously), Paul Giamatti and a young Dean Norris (Hank from Breaking Bad). So if you keep your expectations low, it’s pretty freakin’ entertaining. Especially when accompanied by, uh, other substances.
Okay, so this movie isn’t exactly a hidden gem. But it’s fun to look back at Spacey’s performance as the twisted yet brilliant serial killer, John Doe. In short, he nails it. (He looks pretty cool with the shaved head, too, right?) The other thing worth admiring here: Fincher movies don’t seem to age. This one and Fight Club could’ve come out this year.
The Life of David Gale
Spacey has played a lot of teachers in his time. Maybe it’s because he looks like a sub you’d have growing up. You know, that mysterious middle-aged man who shows up in your chemistry class one day, and you can’t quite tell if he’s smart or full of shit, and then he says something strange about a cute girl in class and you’re like, okay, this guy is weird. And possibly a serial killer.
Anyway, in The Life of David Gale, Spacey plays another educator, a college professor, who gives this rather Don Draper-esque speech on desire. This scene also does that thing you see a lot in movies, where the students laugh way too much at something the teacher said, as if they’re watching a Louis C.K. show. And damn, how about a hand for Rhona Mitra in this movie? Like Spacey, she was definitely at the peak of her powers here.
Kevin Spacey, ladies and gentlemen. King of the “man who’s tied up” monologue.