Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
The weight of the Bobby Darin biopic "Beyond the Sea" rests greatly on Kevin Spacey's shoulders. Not only did the Academy Award-winning actor star, direct and co-produce the movie, he also had the challenge of singing Darin's songs in the film and on the soundtrack.
ATCO/Rhino Records will release the "Beyond the Sea" companion album Nov. 23. The movie, distributed by Lions Gate Films, opens Dec. 10 in New York, Dec. 17 in Los Angeles and Dec. 29 in the rest of the United States.
The 18 songs on the soundtrack include "Mack the Knife," "Dream Lover," "Splish Splash," "Hello Young Lovers," "Once Upon a Time," "Simple Song of Freedom" and the title track.
Spacey plays Grammy Award-winning entertainer Darin, who died in 1973 at the age of 37 after having open-heart surgery. The film tells the story of Darin's difficult childhood, suffering from the life-threatening rheumatic fever that permanently damaged his heart, to his ups and downs in show business as a multifaceted entertainer.
The film also chronicles Darin's success in a variety of musical styles, including pop, rock, country, gospel and folk. Spacey says that this diversity is one of the biggest reasons why he is a passionate fan of Darin.
"I always believed the most important element of this movie would be the music," Spacey says. "The songs that were selected were organic to the storytelling and moved the story forward."
Making the movie was a labor of love for Spacey and the others involved, as they encountered obstacles that were primarily related to finding enough financing.
Fortunately, Spacey says, "I couldn't have asked for better partners, cast and crew."
As for recording Darin's songs, Spacey said, "I honor Bobby's talent, but I tried not to do a slavish imitation. I might have been the vehicle, but Bobby was the driver."
Spacey credits Phil Ramone, who produced the music for the film and the soundtrack album, and the movie's musical director/ composer, John Wilson, for giving him a valuable education in recording and performing music.
Ramone tells Billboard that Spacey insisted on recording the songs with a live band, just the way Darin would.
"Kevin has a determination, charm and work ethic that very few people have," Ramone says. "He even took guitar, drum and piano lessons because of this film. It takes most singers about 15 years to find their voices, but Kevin learned very quickly."
Spacey will perform the soundtrack's songs on a multiple-city tour, dates and locations of which are yet to be announced.
"You don't have to know about Bobby Darin to enjoy this movie," Spacey says. "One of the motivations for me doing this film was for more people to discover Bobby Darin and make them want to go out and buy his albums."
Excerpted from the Oct. 30, 2004, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers .
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