He got kicked out of military school

Born Kevin Spacey Fowler in South Orange, N>J., he and his family relocated to California when he was just a kid. In multiple interviews throughout his career, Spacey has admitted that he wasn't exactly a model child growing up. In fact, according to BBC News, he was sent to military school after he set his sister's tree house on fire.

But even that couldn't straighten him out. Per the Hollywood Reporter, Spacey was expelled from the school for "hurling a tire at another kid's head." Yikes.

Jack Lemmon changed his life

Speaking to PBS Newshour in 2014, Spacey said he first fell into acting after his poor behavior in the classroom led a guidance counselor to suggest that he take up some electives. One of the electives he chose was drama, where he subsequently met a teacher who recommended that he attend a workshop which was being run at the time by Oscar-winning actor Jack Lemmon. As Spacey recalled, Lemmon approached the then-13-year-old student at the end of the workshop and flat-out told him he was born to become an actor. That moment, he said, changed his life.

"To have Jack Lemmon walk up to you when you're 13 years old and put his hand on your shoulder and say, 'You are a born actor, you are meant to do this, you should go to New York and study'…was such an extraordinary boost of confidence."

Spacey would go on to work with Lemmon multiple times in his career, most famously in the 1986 Broadway revival of Long Day's Journey into Night and the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.

He found major success on Broadway

Speaking of Broadway: Spacey was able to carve quite a career for himself on the Great White Way, landing parts in productions ranging from Ghosts (1982) to the aforementioned Long Day's Journey Into Night (1986). This followed formal training at the prestigious Julliard School in Manhattan, for which he was convinced to audition with a little help from his friend, Val Kilmer. In 1991, Spacey won the Tony Award for best featured actor in a play for his role in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers, opposite Mercedes Ruehl and Irene Worth.

Mike Nichols kickstarted his movie career

In addition to Lemmon, Spacey's career was heavily influenced by the late director Mike Nichols, who after an audition in the early '80s, gave Spacey the option of either going on tour with a production of the play The Real Thing or staying in New York and be an understudy for a new play called Hurlyburly. Spacey chose the latter and, as luck would have it, got to play many of the play's characters on stage.

Around that time, Nichols also gave Spacey his first movie role in the 1986 dramedy Heartburn, opposite none other than Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

The Usual Suspects was written with Spacey in mind

The turning point for Spacey's career came in 1995, when he starred in a string of successful hits ranging from Se7en to Outbreak, and then the film that would go on to win him his first of two Academy Awards, The Usual Suspects. In that particular film, Spacey plays the sinister character Verbal who, by the end of the movie, helps pull off one of the greatest movie twists of all time. If the role seems like the perfect pairing of character and actor, well, that's because the part had actually been written with Spacey in mind. 

According to separate interviews with the film's director and screenwriter, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, respectively, Spacey got the part after he approached them at a screening of their 1993 film Public Access and said he'd love to work with them. "He wasn't so famous back then and we thought he'd be great, since we'd loved him in Glengarry Glen Ross," Singer told The Guardian in 2016. "There's something sly and fun about him that's perfect for a trickster mastermind like Verbal." 

"I had actually written parts for him in other scripts. So when he expressed interest, I thought, 'All right, now how do I hold him to that? How do I make a character interesting enough for a Tony Award-winning actor to want to play him?'" added McQuarrie in a 2014 interview with Cinetropolis. "Audiences are very smart. If you'd put the biggest actor in the movie in the role of Verbal, the audience would be thinking, 'When is Dustin Hoffman going to stop limping?' Kevin, who is a very gifted actor, was not the guy you would expect to suddenly be the villain, especially at that stage in his career. We live in an age where villains' parts are handed to Jeremy Irons and Alan Rickman."

The Usual Suspects paved the way for even more success

Winning an Oscar for The Usual Suspects inevitably opened many doors in Hollywood for Spacey, including the chance to finally work with director Curtis Hanson. According to a 1999 interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Spacey revealed that Hanson "had been trying for years, and years and years to get [him] cast in films he made" but the studios had always rejected him.

"I got a phone call after the Academy Awards, and Curtis said, 'I think I got the role, and I think they're not going to say no this time.'"

That role: Jack Vincennes in 1997's L.A. Confidential, would go on to win two Oscars.

He may have gotten high while filming American Beauty

Success continued for Spacey in 1999 when he played Lester Burnham, a suburban father in the midst of a mid-life crisis, in the Oscar-winning American Beauty. As part of his mid-life crisis, Burnham develops a thing for smoking pot after a chance meeting with his creepy next door neighbor (played by Wes Bentley). That scene, director Sam Mendes would later reveal, might have been influenced by some method acting. 

"There's a scene in American Beauty where he and another character are getting stoned outside a real estate convention and there may or may not have been real pot available on that particular movie. I couldn't possibly comment," Mendes said in 2016 (via Hollywood.com.) "At one point Kevin got the giggles as you imagine might happen if somebody were to actually [have pot]," Mendes continued. "He got helpless with laughter and his eyes flicker over to the camera because he's looking for me to cut and say: 'don't giggle, it's not what I want you to do'. And I was saying: 'Keep going'. I felt it was absolutely magic and he kept going and that was absolutely the movie."

Well, whatever the case, Spacey's performance clearly registered with audiences, enough to earn him the Academy Award for best actor.

The new millennium brought new struggles

Although he had two Academy Awards to his name by early 2000, Spacey's next few years on the big screen were met with one notorious flop after the next. Among his biggest misfires included the critically maligned Pay It Forward (2000) and K-PAX (2001), as well as two Oscar hopefuls that wound up being box-office bombs, The Shipping News (2001) and The Life of David Gale (2003).

To be fair: Spacey has on at least one occasion been open about this period of his career being, uh, not-so-great. In September 2017, when one Twitter user tweeted "Name one bad Kevin Spacey movie," the actor responded with "Edison." We haven't seen the movie; but given its 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, we're more than happy to take Spacey's word for it.

He fell back into the theater

As his movie career began to flounder, Spacey went across the pond to London, where he became the artistic director at the Old Vic theater. Although Spacey's time with the theater reportedly got off to a "mixed" start, he held the role until the fall of 2015, when he was succeeded by Matthew Warchus (MatildaGroundhog Day). His stint was also met with high praise from his peers.

He found success again on the small screen

Like many actors of his era, Spacey eventually found better success on the small screen. This was especially true in 2008, when he received Emmy nominations for his performance in the HBO political drama Recount and for executive producing the Ralph Fiennes-Susan Sarandon vehicle Bernard and Doris.

Of course, those gigs proved to be the prelude to Netflix's critically acclaimed drama House of Cards (2013-) which earned Spacey a Golden Globe, as well as five Emmy nominations.

He's dodged gay rumors for decades...

The notoriously private Spacey faced rumors about his sexuality for about two decades. According to E! News, Spacey took particular issue with a 1997 profile in Esquire which reportedly hinted that he was, in fact, gay. "I'm not married, and I won't talk about my private life, so it must mean I'm gay," he later told Playboy in 1999, then went on to imply that the rumors actually helped him get women. "There are a few women who think the article might be true. For them, it's a challenge," he said. "They want to be the ones to turn me around. [And] I let them." That same year, he denied he was gay in an interview with The Sunday Times.

Still, the speculation continued. In fact, Spacey would go on to be targeted by everyone from Andy Cohen, who demanded that he "come out, sir" in his 2014 memoir, to Gawker, who in 2015 published some troubling allegations about his past sexual dalliances.

...until a scandal brought them to light

In October 2017, actor Anthony Rapp shocked everyone when he alleged to BuzzFeed that Spacey had made a sexual advance toward him when Rapp was just 14 years old. Rapp said he was inspired to speak out by the many women who came forward to share their stories about allegedly being sexually harassed and assaulted by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Rapp's interview prompted an immediate apology from Spacey, who also took the moment to confirm that he is, indeed, gay. "I know that there are other stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy," Spacey wrote. "As those closest to me know, in my life, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic relationships with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior."

The awkward revelation from Spacey backfired among prominent figures in the gay community, including comedian Billy Eichner and sex advice columnist Dan Savage. "Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out," Eichner tweeted. Savage said, "Nope to Kevin Spacey's statement. Nope. There's no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child.

More allegations have surfaced amid the fallout

In the wake of Rapp's interview, multiple men have come forward accusing Spacey of sexual assault over the years. Among the biggest stories to gain traction was a piece for BuzzFeed by Harry Dreyfuss, the son of Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, who claimed Spacey groped him in London when he was 18 years old.

The fallout from the scandal has been swift. Netflix reportedly cut ties with Spacey altogether, throwing the future of House of Cards in limbo, while director Ridley Scott is reportedly going to re-shoot Spacey's scenes in All the Money in the World with actor Christopher Plummer. That film is expected to open in December 2017, reported Variety

Spacey, meanwhile, is said to be "taking time to seek evaluation and treatment."