Alan Ball is unsure his Oscar-winning 1999 drama “American Beauty” could get made today considering its narrative centers around a suburban family come undone by the patriarch’s lusting over a 17-year-old high school girl. That the patriarch is played by alleged sexual abuser Kevin Spacey has put a dark cloud over the movie in recent years. Speaking to The Independent to promote his new film “Uncle Frank,” Ball briefly lamented over the present-day status of “American Beauty.”
“I feel really sad because of what happened with Kevin had sort of left its mark on it,” Ball said of the film. “Especially since the character he played in the movie is somebody who’s lusting after a 17-year old girl. I wonder if that movie would get made now.”
Written by Ball and directed by Sam Mendes, “American Beauty” world premiered at the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival to breakout acclaim before hitting theaters in the same month. The film went on to be a box office force for DreamWorks Pictures, grossing just over $350 million at the worldwide box office on a $15 million production budget. At the 2000 Academy Awards, “American Beauty” was nominated for a total of eight Oscars and took home the prizes for Best Picture, Best Director for Mendes, Best Original Screenplay for Ball, Best Actor for Spacey, and Best Cinematography.
During a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “American Beauty” actress Thora Birch reminded moviegoers that an entire crew of artists got the film made and thus Spacey’s actions alone shouldn’t stain the film’s legacy and the work that went into the movie. “You can’t help but feel, ‘Great, now we have this stain on the film,'” the actress said. “But no — it shouldn’t be on the film. Who’s to blame? It’s Kevin. It doesn’t have anything to do with ‘American Beauty.'”
“I think it’s up to someone like me who was a part of ‘American Beauty’ to try to remind everyone that it was an entire community who made this film,” Birch added. “We all love this film. And it doesn’t have anything to do with Kevin at the end of the day.”
Ball’s latest project, “Uncle Frank,” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Head over to The Independent’s website to read more from the screenwriter.