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Kevin Spacey’s Richard III to feature in National Portrait Gallery

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A portrait of Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey as Richard III will be included in a new exhibition of work by artist Jonathan Yeo at the National Portrait Gallery this September.

Spacey appeared as Shakespeare’s villain in a 2011 revival of the play, directed by Sam Mendes at the Old Vic.

Jonathan Leo's portrait of Kevin Spacey as Richard III
Jonathan Leo’s portrait of Kevin Spacey as Richard III

Yeo said: “When Kevin came to London to take over the Old Vic, critics were lining-up to predict that he’d only last a few months before jumping straight on a plane back to Hollywood. The fact he has stuck at it for ten years, revitalising the international reputation of British theatre, made him an obvious choice for inclusion in my first display at the National Portrait Gallery.

“We decided to put him in character as Shakespeare’s notorious villain, partly as a nod to the tradition of theatrical portraits of the past, and partly as a celebration of what may go down as his most memorable stage role. The main dilemma with painting a great actor in a role is knowing how much you are portraying the man and how much the character he is playing. In the end I tried to leave it to the viewer to decide for themselves.”