If so, check your diary and go to http://www.beatbloodcancers.org/kevinspacey I promise, as someone who has enjoyed a few nights out with Kevin Spacey, that you won’t regret the investment. What’s more, you will be helping a great cause, namely Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
Charities are having to fight harder and harder to fund their programmes, and we rely not just on the generosity of individuals giving money, but on individuals like Kevin giving of their time and commitment. We rely too on people like Sally Greene who for the fourth year running is giving us free use of the Criterion theatre, as Kevin follows Mel Brooks, Michael Palin and Stephen Fry in our ‘evening with’ series of fundraisers.
These events started when my literary agent, Ed Victor, a leukaemia survivor, said he wanted to put something into the charity whose research had helped save his life. Between us we came up with the idea of co-hosting an annual event in which members of the public get to meet and interview a genuine A lister. Kevin Spacey is without doubt one such. He is also that rarity – a foreigner who has in many ways made Britain his home, where he has made an enormous contribution to our arts and culture.
I first met him when he attended that (wrongly) much derided evening we had in Downing Street shortly after the ’97 election, when Noel Gallagher took the ‘Cool Britannia’ headlines but Kevin added a certain artistic gravitas! But perhaps the most memorable of my nights out with him came at the Labour Party conference in 2001.
Cue AC diaries for October 3 … ‘As we were heading back to his suite, he [Bill C] said he fancied going for a walk. It was windy, a bit cold and it was starting to rain, but he was like a big kid enjoying the lights. “I love this place. I love Blackpool.” The security guys were clearly used to these kind of eccentric excursions. We passed a big bingo hall, which advertised itself as the biggest amusement arcade in the world. “Hey, I wanna go in there. Let’s go play the machines.” We got to the door and it looked a lot less inviting close up, so we walked on. We were trying to find somewhere to eat. He said he wanted some fast food, nothing fancy, but we walked past two or three places that were closed. By now the rain was getting a bit heavier. Kevin Spacey was with us, having been on a trip with BC. We must have walked on for a couple of miles. Eventually we found a McDonalds that was open. Bill was now on the phone to Hillary, a mix of heavy politics and small talk, going on with her too about how great this Blackpool seafront was. He made quite an interesting point when he came off the phone. All the delegates and the conference people are inside the security bubble, but more of them should get out here with the real people. The tighter the bubble, the more you should try and get out of it. The staff were gobsmacked when we trooped in. There was a young kid behind the counter who was shocked enough to clock Kevin Spacey, but then saw Clinton and went a funny shade of pink, before getting everybody out of the kitchens to come and see. Doug Band (Clinton’s assistant) ordered massive amounts of burgers, chicken nuggets and fries while Bill went round saying hallo to the small number of customers in there. There was a fringe event going on at a pub or hotel over the road and word went round there. Margaret Jay’s daughter Tamsin came back with a few journalists including Matthew D’Ancona but they just sort of gawked, pretended they had just been going out for a night at McDonalds. I got them over to say hallo a bit later on. Meanwhile a crowd was building outside, some of them classic Blackpool landladies out of the postcards, looking and pointing and then when he occasionally turned round and waved at them, they were waving back in a state of high excitement. So there we were, sitting in a Blackpool McDonalds, drinking Diet Coke and eating chicken nuggets as he poured forth on the theme of interdependence, the role of the Third Way in progressive politics. … He spent a while talking to the crowd on the way out, then we got driven back in a little van. He was like a man replenished, not because of the food but because he had been out with real people, and got something out of it.’
I also remember Kevin’s brilliant impersonation of Clinton. In case I forget, someone make sure to ask him to do his Clinton … and ask anything else you like … but first buy a ticket.