Kevin Spacey exclusive: Part of me feels British now but the knife crime here is shocking
Hollywood star Kevin Spacey has vowed not to quit Britain despite fears over rising crime.
The self-confessed Anglophile admits he is frightened by the endless string of shocking knife crimes that have engulfed his adopted homeland.
And he has every right to be scared. He experienced the nasty side of London first-hand in 2004 when he chased a mugger who snatched his mobile phone and suffered head injuries.
In an exclusive interview, the actor told the Mirror: "I think crime here is shocking and knife crime is shocking and everyone must do what they can to be safe.
"Hopefully that particular culture will start to be more productive and find things to do with themselves which aren't about stealing things and hurting people.
"It is terrible when you read about it, absolutely terrible."
But though his love of Blighty may be a little tarnished Spacey, artistic director at the Old Vic Theatre in London, has vowed not to give up on the UK.
"I love living in London," says New Jersey-born Kevin. "I can say with all sincerity that London is my home. This is my seventh year living in London, fifth season at the Old Vic.
"I was in New York before. It is a great city but my focus for the next six years will be in Britain.
"I will never renounce being American but there is a part of me that is British now. I may go for dual citizenship - who knows."
Spacey's love for England began when he was young. The son of a secretary and technical writer, he travelled regularly to Britain on holiday. He said: "My father was an Anglophile and so was my mother and we always took trips to Britain when I was quite young.
"When I started out I got a big break by playing at the Haymarket Theatre with Jack Lemmon in Long Day's Journey into Night when I was in my 20s."
For his latest movie, Telstar, Spacey finally gets to play a quintessential stiff upper-lipped Englishman.
The film tells the story of legendary record producer Joe Meek, the man dubbed Britain's Phil Spector.
He produced a string of hits including the first British song to top the American charts, Telstar, from a flat above a shop in North London.
But the troubled musical innovator's life was to end in tragedy when, in 1967, he killed his landlady before turning the gun on himself.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star Nick Moran turned the tragic story into a play and now a film with Spacey playing Meek's financial backer, Major Banks.
To get into the role, Spacey went back to his childhood. He said: "I loved late night films on television when I was growing up. They would always show old British wartime films.
"When I knew Nick was going to make a movie about it I had to be involved. I read the script and it was really well done.
"I read the script and it was pretty much all there."
Spacey also relished the prospect of going back to an era he feels is neglected by filmmakers. "The time period of the film seems to have gone missing from the movie business in Britain," he says.
"It is like the 50s and 60s don't exist because they just get passed over.
"The music world in particular was revolutionary at that time and Meek advanced the recording industry and the sense of sound. He was a real pioneer. It was such a cool period to attack. I haven't seen the final final film but when I had seen the rough I think Nick has done a great job in tackling that world."
Spacey started his career in theatre and is known as one of the best actors of his generation after success in a string of film hits such as American Beauty, LA Confidential and Se7en.
But he is also able to let his hair down and admits to having fun playing baddie Lex Luther in Superman Returns.
The one role that he still craves is to be a Bond villain. "I would love to play the villain in Bond but they haven't called yet," he laughs. "It would be fantastic.
Spacey is fast approaching a major landmark in his life. In a few weeks' time he will turn 50 but he's not worried.
"It doesn't mean that much to me. But if enough people start reminding me of it every day then perhaps it will sink in," he says, gently chiding me for my impertinence at bringing the subject up.
"But at the moment I feel as energised and driven as I have ever felt."
For now it is Britain and the work that needs to be done at the old Vic that holds his attention.
He has brought some of the greatest talents of the stage and screen to the London theatre and he feels there is more to be done.
"We are at our halfway mark, as I think of it, because we have a 10-year plan," he says. "It has been an extremely satisfying journey. I love the company and the staff and I am proud of what has been achieved."
And for the friend of Bill Clinton and a staunch Democrat, the lure of London is still far greater than that of Washington.
"I would never ever think about going into politics," he says.
"I would rather become a crack addict. I think you can be just as effective in public service." He prefers the lighter side of life and would love to do a comedy. And then there is still that Bond role...
FROM NY TO SOUTH LONDON
Kevin Spacey has carved out a comfortable life for himself since moving from New York to London.
His home is a flat in Kennington, South London, near the Old Vic. He has a Mini Cooper and lists among his friends, Tony Blair, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Elton John.
He has overseen the rejuvenation of the theatre producing and starring in productions like Richard II. Even when he is away shooting a movie, he is constantly in touch with his colleagues back in London. "No matter where I am, I am always running the Old Vic. Thank God for BlackBerrys and email," he said.
His revival of Alan Ayckbourn's, The Norman Conquests, won a prestigious Tony award on Broadway.