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Kevin Spacey chooses Rome and Italian poetry to fightback

About Rome


This 2nd of August Kevin Spacey chose to make his comeback to Acting by surprising the guests of the Palazzo Massimo - Roman National Museum with a poetry reading while standing next to the Hellenistic sculpture “Boxer at Rest”.

The actor, therefore, quietly chose Rome to make his comeback and create a connection with his audience performing for the first time since 2017 in front of the international press and a lucky few notable figures.

The event was a surprise and the only announcement was an enigmatic post made by the author of the poem, Gabriele Tinti, on his Instagram account.

"The more you’re Wounded the Greater you are, and the more empty" Spacey powerfully expressed in a performance that communicated not only the character but his inner life as well. “They used me for their entertainment, fed on shoddy stuff. Life was over in a moment.» Gabriele Tinti’s profound “The Boxer” (Il Pugile) poem came to life through Spacey’s interpretation. As he spoke from his heart, the reality of the character blended into the reality of what Spacey has been experiencing in his life and so the words powerfully struck a chord with the mesmerized audience.

In this classy and indirect way, Kevin Spacey chose to answer the questions about the allegations that have been raised and subsequently dropped against him by using Art as a metaphor. Tinti’s powerful poem speaks of a boxer that is used for entertainment and tossed to the side once bloody and no longer useful.

“Say that again, please. I can’t hear what you’re saying. My face is made of bronze, can’t you see? Look at my eyes, my ears, this chest. Say it again, if you like. Or save your breath. The words give way before me. Every time there is something that doesn’t add up, the voice is lost. I don’t know why, but it is never enough. What is that you’re saying? Perhaps you’re right. The more you’re wounded the greater you are. And the more empty you are. They used me for their entertainment, fed on shoddy stuff. Life was over in a moment. It was always like this: I fought, I looked for an edge, dawn where I could start again. I have endured no end of sleepless nights. I have spent hours and hours sweating to destroy and fall. I did everything to fill up every space. The blood shone in my veins and, basically, I always wanted to drop.

What you see are my gloves sacred to life, my wounds. Stop a minute, rest your hand there, look. You have to suck the heart of a hero as long as it beats, you ought to know this. I shook the country, made the arenas vibrate, tore my opponents to shreds. I lit up the darkness, collected insults, compelled applause. Not everyone knew how to do this. None of you. On the other hand life is not frightening for those who have never taken a risk. Who can understand me? Who can I still speak to? The spirit is ill, it can no longer be cured. It will disappear off the face of the earth. This is its fate. I know, now I am tired and becoming sad. This is why you have dug me the grave. You have opened it down there, far away. To conceal me. So as not to have problems and not have to see. Fools! You couldn’t imagine that I would be resuscitated in this metal suit, that I would come back to stare at you with my dark face, without lips."


After presenting his performance to international press members inside the room that displays the magnificent bronze sculpture the poem was inspired by, Spacey joined a select few in the museum courtyard and presented the performance once more.

What was most fascinating about his recitation, to me, was the fact that at the end of it he added “and...I am a Man.” and the perceived subtext seems to imply he had fought to overcome something that was thrown upon him and thus proven he was worthy. What is certain is that, even though he is not able to communicate on the allegations, Kevin Spacey chose to respond with class and grace by saying everything he had to say through his powerful wounded boxer performance.

The audience responded with warmth as well as applause and the intimate setting allowed the actor to gracefully and humbly take time to shake hands and exchange a few words with those present. He approached them with the demeanor of someone that had been wounded yet still deeply cared about people. Despite his reserved nature and emotional turmoil, Kevin Spacey also allowed those present to take a few pictures with him and once he felt it was time, he exited the courtyard with his entourage.

The stoic Hellenistic sculpture that inspired the poem was excavated in Rome on the slopes of the Quirinale and may date back to 330 BCE or earlier, it portrays a resting boxer that is a perfect example of a powerfully expressive Hellenistic style Greeks loved exploring during those times. It has a more powerful realism compared to their previously idealistic sculptures and focuses on delivering emotional impact.

Gabriele Tinti has written essays, as well as other poems on the impressive sculpture and this particular piece, has been read by actors Robert Davi at the  J. Paul Getty Museum and Franco Nero at the National Roman Museum in the past. However, “The Boxer” was written by Gabriele Tinti with Kevin Spacey in mind and so the event must have been a dream come true for the author. Upon my thanking him for his poetic performance, the actor responded by giving credit to the author for his splendid writing.

Designed by Camillo Pistrucci between 1883 and 1887, the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme became the home of the National Museum of Rome in 1981 and has since been housing one of the world’s greatest collections of ancient art. I was impressed by its beauty and will surely go back again to visit it fully.



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