In a brief stop at Seattle's hep W Hotel on the campaign trail for The Life of David Gale, Kevin Spacey insists, "It's not the Death Penalty Film! It's a thriller. Good politics makes bad theater." Spacey compares Gale to The China Syndrome or Silkwood: a human drama that happens to have a political dimension, too. "It'll be interesting to see how the critical reaction is driven by people's opinions about the issue itself," he says. "I suspect we'll take some hits."
Spacey took the part after George Clooney quit the picture because Gale "had humor, irony, lightnessthat comedy that lets the drama come across." Spacey seems starved for comedy, but he won't accept strictly comedic scripts because "They're all funny for about 10 minutes." He's delighted that director Alan Parker"A supremely amusing man; he's like an energized elf"let him insert a semi-comic scene where Gale gets plastered and spouts philosophy in the streets of Austin.
More than any character he's done since The Usual Suspects made his name, Spacey's Gale comes off like the actor himself: sharp, stylish, woeful/soulful, a worldly liberal, a little smug, tough to pin down. Spacey's public personality has begun to leak into his roles. When I ask him whether, like Jack Nicholson, he intentionally crafts a persona that carries over from role to rolea metarolehe sort of ducks the question; and when I quote Cary Grant, the locus classicus of persona-making ("Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. I want to be Cary Grant"), Spacey just laughs. He wants to be Kevin Spaceyand as to who that really is, that remains for only him to know.