Bobby Darin’s life had no dearth of suitors. People have been trying to make a movie about the crooner for years. But only Kevin Spacey got the blessing of his family to star in and direct Beyond the Sea. And only Spacey had the cojones to then take Darin’s act on the road in his current 10-city tour.
Why are you so fascinated with Bobby Darin? He’s just one of the great legendary all-around showmen that we’ve ever had. I wanted to turn the spotlight back on him because he’s the forgotten one.
Over the last 15 years, a lot of different scripts were written for this project. How come you rejected the earlier ones in favor of writing your own with Lewis Colick? In my mind and in [Darin’s son] Dodd’s mind, the other scripts made Bobby Darin a rather unlikable figure. I was not interested in making a conventional biopic, as you can see from the results. I was interested in making an exuberant celebration of an entertainer in a way that would be uplifting for an audience.
So the family obviously didn’t have many problems with your script. It was Dodd who looked me in the eye at a dinner one night and said, ”I trust you. I don’t need to read a script. I don’t want to read a script. Go make your movie — any help you need, I will give you.” And he did. The biggest critic I could have faced — [Darin’s ex-wife] Sandra Dee — she called me and said she wouldn’t change a frame. That’s satisfying because she lived it.
But the family did have some questions about you singing Darin’s songs, right? We had to get beyond them initially being against my singing [for the movie]. Once I was able to sit down and look Dodd in the eyes and look Steve Blauner [Darin’s manager] in the eyes and tell them, from my own heart, that I wanted to do nothing that would dilute Bobby’s legacy, they got on board.