The Man With Kevin Spacey's Face
By Rodger Jacobs
Things got really bad after that movie "The Usual Suspects". That’s when people would stop me on the street and say, “Hey! Keyser Soze!” Of course, I had no idea what people were talking about until one of the night clerks at the hotel told me about the movie and about my resemblance to Kevin Spacey.
Of all the things that I derive pleasure from in life movies are right up there with smashing my face against the windshield of a car careening down the freeway at 80 miles per hour. I like books but I loathe movies. I don’t see the point. Isn’t life hard enough without sitting in a dark room for two hours and watching a vivid re-enactment of someone else’s trials and troubles? Don’t even try to tell me that books deliver the same experience because they don’t. Period. No argument, nothing to debate. If you disagree with me then you deserve to sit in the dark with a hundred other strangers staring gape-jawed at people you’ll never be.
Working as a night auditor at a downtown hotel puts a crimp in my social calendar but I did manage to sneak in a few hours of sleep one morning before taking the bus down to the mall to see the movie. The film had already been in circulation for a couple of months so they moved it to one of those smaller cracker box screening rooms. I could feel the hot breath of every stranger in that room on my neck.
The movie wasn’t half bad. It was at least semi-literate but a little too big for its own britches in the long run. I think if you pinned down the guy who wrote that movie and forced him to deliver an explanation under penalty of death you would just end up having to kill him, not that one less movie writer in the world is such a bad notion.
After seeing "The Usual Suspects" for the fourth time I was able to perfectly emulate that little shuffle that Kevin Spacey does at the end of the movie. Whenever people would stop me on the sidewalk and shout out “Keyser Soze!” I would flash that sheepish smile and go into my shuffle down the street with a polite little wave. I always got a laugh.
Then came "American Beauty" and everything changed. Kevin Spacey was no longer a quaint character in an equally quaint cult film but he was a star. People were talking Academy Award. The folks who stopped me on the street then were full of fawning adulation. They wanted to shake my hand. Some wanted to embrace me. I must have posed for dozens of pictures for dumb tourists. It started to get tiresome after about three weeks.
Of all the people who wanted an autograph, a shake of the hand, a picture with Aunt Ethel from Dubuque, only one ever spotted that I wasn’t the real Kevin Spacey. He was a wedding photographer from Patterson, New Jersey, and, as such, he had a good eye for faces.
“The scar.” he said. “You don’t have Kevin Spacey’s scar.”
That morning, after stopping to pick up milk and orange juice at the Korean market on the way home from work, I studied a picture of Spacey’s face in Los Angeles magazine and, sure enough, there’s a half-inch scar on his cheek. At first I thought of using a razor but that idea went out the window when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to cut deep enough to leave a scar. So I used my dad’s old Bowie knife.
I took two weeks of vacation leave from the hotel to allow the small gash in my face to heal. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there was a method to my madness, as they say in the movies.
My first stop was Warner Brothers Studios. I got off the bus at Barham Boulevard and Forest Lawn Drive and walked the three blocks to the Barham gate of the studio. I was wearing neatly-pressed black slacks, a navy blue dress shirt, and a charcoal gray sports jacket.
The guard at the gate didn’t even flinch, didn’t question my identity for one second.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Spacey.” He smiled so wide you would’ve thought I was a long-lost relative of his.
I told him that I lost my pass but that I was supposed to go to the set of "E.R.", a popular TV show that the hotel night clerk told me was filmed at the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank.
The guard looked at me real strange and said that "E.R." was “on hiatus”. Just when I thought I had been found out he offered the suggestion that perhaps I meant I was supposed to visit the offices of the producers of "E.R."
“Yes! That’s it!” I said with the trademark Spacey chuckle.
“Where’s your vehicle?” he asked, slightly suspicious, since I approached the gate on foot.
Quickly, I pointed to the restaurant across the street. “I was having lunch at The Smoke House and thought I would stroll over. Good for the digestion.”
He bought it, wrote out a pass with Kevin Spacey’s name scribbled under VISITOR, and let me onto the studio lot without even bothering to call the offices of the TV show to see if my story checked out.
A studio lot is a disillusionment even for people like me who don’t go to the movies very often. A studio is nothing more or less than a huge piece of acreage with humongous warehouses that could be in the business of assembling wing nuts or soup cans or bad overpriced rattan furniture for Pier One Imports. It just so happens they assemble movies here instead.
I walked around the lot until my feet grew heavy and tired. When I got hungry I stopped some stupid looking kid on a bike and asked him where I could get a bite to eat.
“You mean the commissary, Mr. Spacey?”
I shook my head in the negative and forced a twisted scowl onto my face, figuring that Kevin Spacey wouldn’t be caught dead eating in the studio commissary. The kid directed me out the Hollywood Way gate and down Olive Avenue to a restaurant called Dalt’s on the lower floor of a high-rise building that houses the offices of BBC America. I listen to BBC America on the radio at work every night so you might say I was quite impressed.
Dalt’s is all dark wood paneling and black-and-white checkered flooring. The best that I can tell, it’s supposed to resemble a classic bar and grill in America’s Heartland, wherever the hell that is. I settled in at the bar – which incongruously resembles an English pub – and ordered a pint of Guiness and a French Dip with cole slaw. The bartender recognized me but put up a good battle pretending I was just an average Joe, unlike the idiotic studio guard who you would think would be a little more careful.
The food was good but the stout English beer was better. I’m not supposed to drink alcoholic beverages because they don't sit well with my meds but imagine if you were a 45-year old hotel night auditor who never really had a night of fun in his whole life.
After seven pints of beer, according to eyewitness reports supplied to the tabloids, Kevin Spacey stripped down to his birthday suit and deposited the contents of four bottles of ketchup onto the tiled floor and began rolling around nude in the river of red slush screaming, “Eat me! Eat me! I’m a French fry!”
The two Burbank police officers who showed up were as nice as can be. They helped me into the bathroom and stood by while I ran tap water in the basin and wiped the smears of ketchup from my pale body. I dressed and reached into my wallet and pulled out two $20 bills.
“What happens at Dalt’s stays at Dalt’s,” I said with a wink, handing the cops a twenty each.
They offered to give me a ride home but I politely declined. I would need the long bus ride back to Palms to help nurse the hangover I could already feel taking hold.
The best thing is I didn’t have to pay for the beers or the sandwich. When you’re Kevin Spacey people are always giving you things for free.
© 2004-05, Rodger Jacobs
All Rights Reserved