Daniel Craig’s Spectre and Skyfall director Sam Mendes is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in Hollywood. However, what he might have done to make sure he got the required performance out of one of the actors in his 1999 movie will surprise some. 

Sam Mendes
Director Sam Mendes | Picture by Angela George | Wikimedia Commons

American Beauty is a dark comedy-drama movie that featured Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham. The movie was released to critical success and won several accolades. Although every actor nailed his/her role, there was something special about Spacey in the movie. The real reason behind Spacey’s exceptional performance in one of the scenes is totally unexpected. 

Sam Mendes Might Have Made Kevin Spacey and a Yellowstone Actor High

American Beauty actor Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey in a still from American Beauty | Source: DreamWorks Pictures

British film director, Sir Samuel Alexander Mendes, has graced the big screens with wonderful films like 1917, Skyfall, and Revolutionary Road. There is no doubt that he began his journey with his 1999 directorial debut movie, American Beauty. While filming one of the scenes of American Beauty, Mendes decided in favor of making Kevin Spacey high on cannabis. 

Mendes believed Spacey needed to be stoned so the scene would feel more natural than ever. Getting Spacey on cannabis was apparently important for his character development in the movie. However, one of the director’s statements leaves people wondering what if it was actually used. Speaking at Hay Festival back in 2016, the director said (via Daily Mail):

There’s a scene in American Beauty where he and Wes Bentley’s character are getting stoned outside a real estate convention. There may or may not have been real pot available on that particular evening, I couldn’t comment.

Speaking of the scene, he needed Spacey to be high for, the 1917 director said: 

At one point Kevin got the giggles as you might imagine would happen. He got helpless with laughter out of nowhere and his eyes flick over just to the left of the camera because he’s looking for me to say ‘don’t giggle, it’s not what I want you to’.

But I said ‘keep going’ because I just thought it was magic. And he kept going and that was absolutely the movie.

No matter what sort of criticism followed the director’s decision, the work that he wanted to accomplish ended up being done without any failure. Mendes believes that his decision brought the best out of Spacey. 

American Beauty Is a Satire on How Beauty Is Perceived

A still from American Beauty
A still from American Beauty | Source: DreamWorks Pictures

Directed by Sam Mendes, American Beauty isn’t just a movie, but a subtle criticism of societal issues. The film was not only entertaining but also a thought-provoking critique. Although this multi-Oscar-winning movie rarely appears as the critics’ favorite in the present time, it was a must-watch movie right after its release. 

Alan Ball, the screenwriter of American Beauty, once mentioned in an interview that the movie sheds light on how modern people can’t live an original life because everyone is interested only in outer appearance. Ball told TIME:

It’s becoming harder and harder to live an authentic life when we live in a world that seems to focus on appearance.

The film might not have been the best way to show what Mendes wanted, but he got the job done so that counts for something.

American Beauty is available for streaming on Hoopla. 

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