By David Robb
It was the most touching moment of last night’s Golden Globes, and it wasn’t even caught by NBC’s cameras. It came shortly after Kevin Spacey returned to his table after accepting the award for Best Actor in a TV Series — Drama, and dedicating the award to his old friend, the late great filmmaker Stanley Kramer.
Kevin Spacey accepting his Golden Globe
Kramer’s widow, Karen, was in the audience, and was deeply touched by what Spacey had said about her late husband. “I was overwhelmed,” she told Deadline. “I was so moved by what he said about Stanley.” So she sought Spacey out. Karen, a past Golden Globe recipient herself — she beat out Shirley MacLaine and Kim Novak in 1955 as Most Promising Newcomer — began working her way from the back of the room. That’s when Michael Stern, a coordinator of the event who she’d known for years, came up to her and asked: “Are you looking for Kevin Spacey?” She laughed and said that she was. Stern got on his walkie-talkie and quickly found where Spacey was seated and took her to his table.
The show was still going on, so very quietly she approached Spacey, knelt before him and took his hand. “I am so deeply, deeply touched by what you said,” she told him, “and by your generosity in giving so much of your valued time to Stanley.” He bent down to her and they embraced. “We both cried,” she recalled. “It was a moment that I think we will both cherish for the rest of our lives.”
A few minutes earlier, the whole world had been watching when Spacey, accepting his award for his performance in House Of Cards, recounted a similarly moving moment back in 2000 when he visited Stanley Kramer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House. They’d been friends for years, and it would be the last time they would meet. Stanley was dying of diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and only had a few months to live. Karen was there that day as well.
“I want to tell you just a little story that will explain to you how I feel about this tonight,” Spacey said in his speech last night. “The last time that I saw Stanley Kramer, one of the great filmmakers of all time, was at the Motion Picture and Television Home, and I was sitting with him and he was in a wheelchair. He was ill at this time. And as I was about to leave, I realized that I had never told him what I thought about his work, how much his work had meant to me. And so I said to him, ‘The film you made, the subjects you tackled, the performances you got out of some of the greatest actors that have ever walked the face of the earth, the Oscars you won, your films will stand the test of time and will influence filmmaker for all time.’ And I didn’t know whether he had really retained what I said or not. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. But as I stood up to leave, he grabbed my hand. And I looked at his wife, who was across the room, and I sat back down. And he said as clearly to me as anything he’d ever said: ‘Thank you so much for saying that. That means so much so me. I just wish my films had been better.’ And so, as I stand here tonight as someone who has enjoyed such an extraordinary career, in large measure because of the people in this room, I just want it to be better. I just want to be better, and this [holding up the trophy] is very encouraging.”
After the show, Karen looked for Spacey to thank him once more for his kindness and generosity, but he was gone. She looked for him at the after-parties, but he wasn’t there, either — he had left to catch a plane to film his current project, the indie Elvis & Nixon. But everywhere she went, old friends greeted her and told her how moved they too had been by the remarks. “I wish I’d said that,” Billy Bob Thornton told her. Thornton, who gave the shortest acceptance speech after winning for his performance in Fargo, was also an old friend of Karen’s and had visited Stanley in the hospital many times over the years.
“Oh, my God, what a stunning moment that was,” Brad Grey, Paramount chairman and CEO, told her. “I was so thrilled that Stanley’s great work is still so appreciated.”
“That was the most spectacular moment. I’ll never forget it,” Ryan Murphy, director of The Normal Heart, told her.
It was indeed a most spectacular moment, but sometimes the most touching moments aren’t captured on television.