A Minute With: Kevin Spacey betting on "Casino Jack"

Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:21am EST
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By Janet Guttsman

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Kevin Spacey has won Oscars for his roles as a father in mid-life crisis in "American Beauty" and a quick-thinking criminal in "The Usual Suspects."

In his new movie "Casino Jack" he portrays corrupt government lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a role which earned him a Golden Globe nomination this week for best actor in a comedy.

"Casino Jack," which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, looks at the "me-first" culture in Washington epitomized by Abramoff, who lobbied lawmakers on behalf of casinos and greased the palm of many an outstretched politician's hand.

To prepare for his role Spacey spent hours talking with Abramoff in a U.S. federal prison where he was housed until his release this month. He spoke to Reuters about the movie, his impressions of Abramoff and his plans for the future.

Q: Abramoff comes across as quite a complicated character. How did you decide how to play him?

A: "I made the decision that I was not going to begin, really in earnest research, until after I met him. I didn't want to walk into that room with a lot of opinions about him.

"He was very helpful, and very generous and very funny and very charming, and in some ways very different from what I thought he was going to be. I could completely see why he had been so successful at raising funds. Whatever room he was going to be in, he would have owned, absolutely.

"His greed wasn't self interest. It is that he got caught up in the game of being the best, of making the most money in the culture of the lobbying industry? Because frankly when you break it down, he wasn't doing anything that everyone else in Washington wasn't doing. He was doing it louder, bigger, better and making more money than everyone else."   Continued...

<p>Actor Kevin Spacey poses at the 19th Annual BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Los Angeles Britannia Awards in Los Angeles in this November 4, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>