Sure, Kevin Spacey might be planning a song-and-dance number to rival previous hosts James Corden and Neil Patrick Harris, but don’t expect him to talk about it before the big reveal.
Spacey is on deck to host Sunday night’s Tony Awards, where nominations are led by “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Less than a week after the Tonys, the “House of Cards” actor heads to Arthur Ashe Stadium for a two-night only run of “Clarence Darrow,” on June 15 and 16.
We chatted with Spacey, who himself won a Tony for 1991’s “Lost in Yonkers,” ahead of Sunday’s big night.
WWD: How are you approaching your hosting duties?
Kevin Spacey: To have a fantastic evening; to celebrate, to me, the most important form of expression that I’ve ever been a part of, and where I learned my craft and continue to learn, which is doing theater. And to celebrate this season — and other than that, I really can’t tell you anything. We all want it to be a surprise. I really can’t talk about what we’re going to do — I can only say that we’re having a great time preparing. I’ve been in rehearsals for two weeks.
WWD: As the host, do you have to stay neutral or are there particular shows you’re rooting for?
K.S.: I absolutely have to stay neutral, and one way that I’ve been doing that is that I’ve been going to the theater every single night, and I’ve been seeing every single thing that’s on Broadway, and going back and seeing all the casts and congratulating them on their work. My first priority is to see all the nominees, and I’m pretty close to completing that.
WWD: After the Tonys you’ll take on “Clarence Darrow.” What made you want to revisit that character?
K.S.: I think he’s one of the most important figures certainly in the legal profession, but also just in how we live our lives. Clarence Darrow had a pretty big influence on labor laws in the United States; he was a brilliant fighter for workers’ rights and conditions. He is the reason we have an eight hour day, because of the Pennsylvania mining case. He was an extraordinary civil rights attorney, who fought on the rights of many many people who found themselves in terrible situations. He defended 102 men against the death penalty, and not one of them hung, which is a pretty amazing record when you consider that he was not only convincing juries but he was convincing judges as well, that no one — no one — deserved to die.
I supposed when I did the play a couple years back at the Old Vic, and now as I’m working on it again it just strikes me that so many of the issues and the things that Clarence Darrow fought for and fought against are issues that we’re still fighting for and against. Many of these things have not be resolved; he was never afraid to take on unpopular causes, to defend unpopular cases and individuals. His logic and his reason and his celebration of life and his love of what’s right and fair is a voice that maybe could be very powerful for people to hear right now.
WWD: Seats are being set aside for young people to come and see “Clarence Darrow,” either at discount or, for the 18-25-year-old seats, for free. Why is this cause so important to you?
K.S.: It’s something I’ve been talking about for 20, almost 30 years. I believe that there is a case to be made that we don’t make theater accessible and inviting for young people. I’m very delighted when I see shows like “Hamilton” who have a lottery and who do provide for students seats. I feel that if we don’t make an effort to build the next generation of theatergoers, we’re going to lose out.