“I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.”
The Bard’s greatest villain might very well be Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, a morally bankrupt and loathsome wretch who rises to the throne through manipulation, cunning and a whole lot of treachery in “Richard III.” It’s one of the most violent and deliciously melodramatic of Shakespeare’s plays, and makes for one heck of a role for a great actor — one like, say, Kevin Spacey.
Spacey and his “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes reunited over a decade after collaborating on their Oscar-winning film to do a stage production of “Richard III.” Not just any stage production, mind you — 20 cast members of the Bridge Project Company traveled across three continents for over 200 performances, from London’s Old Vic Theatre, through the Arabian Desert, across the Great Wall of China, to the ancient Greek amphitheatre Epidavros and finally to Brooklyn, New York, where they performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
“NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage” gives a look behind the curtain (sometimes literally) of this huge, “all guns blazing” production, featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the extensive rehearsal process and a chance to see Spacey and his cast members in action.
While Spacey and Mendes first collaborated on the 5-time Oscar winner “American Beauty,” there’s actually very little Lester Burnham in Richard. The deformed king shares more in common with the star’s recent turn as Francis Underwood, the power-hungry Congressman who rises in the ranks at the White House through manipulation, lies and, yes, homicide on Netflix’s “House of Cards” (Richard even talks directly to the audience, too). Spacey also has Richard walk with a limp, something he utilized in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Roger “Verbal” Kint in “The Usual Suspects” (1995).
“NOW” — named after the first line of the play (“Now is the winter of our discontent”) and to emphasize the sense of immediacy that comes from live theater — showcases Spacey’s command of the stage as he flips over tables, seethes with anger and indignation and even engages in swordplay. The trailer also features him delivering one of Richard’s most famous lines as he starts to realize that he might very well be doomed: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” (Act V, scene IV)
Kevin Spacey, Sam Mendes and the Bridge Project Company go on the road in NOW: in the Wings on a World Stage. In over 200 performances, and across 3 continents, Kevin and the troupe reveal some of the most intimate moments behind the scenes of their staging of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, “Richard III.” Their story and experiences weave around, and reflect on, excerpts from the play from their various locations, from Epidaurus to Doha, and provides a great opportunity for those who have never experienced Spacey on stage to witness his immersive and captivating interpretation of Richard III. NOW chronicles the first collaboration between Spacey and Mendes since both won Academy Awards® for their work on American Beauty.
ABOUT MY NEW EXCLUSIVE FILM
I have quietly been working on this 90 minute feature for the last few years. The film chronicles my latest collaboration with Sam Mendes; a stage production of “Richard III.” It had been more than a decade since we worked together on American Beauty, when the opportunity arose for Sam and I to take this theatre production on tour to 12 cities around the world with him as director, and myself as the tyrannical Richard III.
NOW is a close, backstage look at the total experience of being an actor and what it takes to form a company – from rehearsing every day and beginning to create a role with your director, crew and fellow actors to going on tour and spending a year together on the road in many different cultures and countries.
There are a multitude of challenges that come with being in a new theatre in an unknown city every few weeks. There were some tears, but also a lot of laughs. Sharing these unforgettable moments as well as practicing our craft across three continents over ten months time brought us together as a family.
Our journey took us from London to the deserts of Doha, across the Great Wall of China, through Istanbul, Singapore, Sydney, Naples, San Francisco, Beijing, Hong Kong and ultimately brought us to New York City.
We called the film NOW not only because it is the first word of the first sentence of “Richard III” (“Now is the winter of our discontent”), but also because it illustrates how the film puts you in the present tense, into the live moment onstage and brings the audience on the journey alongside us.
This is the first feature film directed by my longstanding friend and collaborator, Jeremy Whelehan. Jeremy’s unique eye and background in theatre allowed him to blend into the company and because of this he was able deliver an intimate, honest and revealing film of our shared experiences.
Our production of “Richard III” was part of a larger endeavor called The Bridge Project which was born from mine and Sam’s love of the living theatre. As Sam puts it: “The idea behind The Bridge Project was born out of a simple desire: a wish for artists, collaborators, and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic to experience one another’s work, talent, and artistry in the theater.”
Our commitment to this 3-year project saw Sam direct five plays: Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” “As You Like It,” and “The Tempest,” as well as Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” What started out as our own passionate and idealistic project turned into a success beyond my highest hopes.
The artwork for NOW was kindly donated by a good friend of mine Jonathan Yeo (http://www.jonathanyeo.com) who is an incredible artist. He painted a portrait of me as Richard lll which hung at the National Gallery in London for a time.
I thank both Sam and the entire company of actors for giving Jeremy and his team such access to their experiences. I am also extremely grateful to all our partners throughout the world and to the audiences which came out and packed every theatre we played in for over ten months. I’ve made this film for my fans and for all those people who ask why the theatre means so much to me, and indeed to all actors. I hope this film might answer some of those questions.
NOW is in select USA theatres and available for download here May 2
- See more at: http://www.kevinspacey.com/nowthefilm/#sthash.HRLIspyS.dpuf