Rahul da Cunha: Kevin spaced out?

Nov 05, 2017, 06:08 IST | Rahul Da Cunha

No, no, no. Not you Kevin Spacey. Seriously, not you


Illustration/Uday Mohite

No, no, no. Not you Kevin Spacey. Seriously, not you. 'Tis the season where many skeletons are tumbling out of several closets. Many modern Darth Vaders are being exposed. Harvey Weinstein heads the El Creepo battalion. Dustin Hoffman has had a field day for years with younger production girls. Alec Baldwin now says that he wants to 'change' his sexist ways. Who's next, I'm wondering. The best, one as a viewer can hope for, is that performers you've admired on screen aren't sexual predators off it. In my view, it's an extreme argument to refuse seeing Woody Allen gems or Roman Polanski's noir films because they're alleged paedophiles. The lines between personal and professional should not blur. But that's me.

To get back to you, Kevin Spacey aka Frank Underwood, Kayser Sozey, John Doe, what's up dude? For me, you've always been that guy, the man. Always in control, with that crooked, 'something's always up' smile. It's horribly simplistic to believe that cool actors are cool people. Like Robert deNiro. The characters he's played have always been bigger than the person he appears to be. But you, Herr Spacey, have been both. Cool actor and cool guy. Your cheeky jumping into Ellen de Generes's selfie at the 2014 Oscar awards, your superb imitation of Al Pacino to Al Pacino on the David Letterman show, your passion for the stage, which prompted you to take over the ailing Old Vic… just great stuff.

Your work over the years, on screen, has been just stellar. Obviously, American Beauty was your zenith. But, the back-to-back creepiness of your roles in Usual Suspects and Se7en, your ability to play characters with 50 shades of grey. And finally, House of Cards — the game changer on television. I don't have the figures for TV shows… perhaps GoT has got more TRPs, and Homeland more eyeballs. But fantasy and FBI are generally quite predictable. House of Cards, against all odds, just turned the medium on its head — good old modern 'cold hard stare' TV fare with much political subtext. No 'whodunit'. Just how and why they did it. The viewer being sucked into a web of lies and deceit.

Frank Underwood is the modern flawed villain. Far from a sympathetic protagonist, he is a wholly corrupt anti-hero, inviting us to share his Machiavellian machinations, regularly breaking the fourth wall by addressing the audience directly. Here is the President-elect of the USA who throws adversaries under a train and then turns to camera and winks at us, the viewer. And now, Netflix isn't withdrawing its most successful show because of falling ratings, but because of a wandering hand. Your wandering hand.

Bryan Singer, Spacey's Usual Suspects director once said about casting, "You pick people not for what they are, but what you imagine they can turn into." Kevin Spacey, have you turned into what you are? Either way you've been relieved of Season 6. And we of a show of gripping entertainment.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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