How Kevin Spacey’s Role In ‘Se7en’ Nearly Went To A Very Unlikely Musician

When Kevin Spacey’s ashes are sent back to his hometown, SPACE, which role of his will appear in the first line of his obituary? He won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy in consecutive years for his work as Frank Underwood in House of Cards. He’s taken home two Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actor for The Usual Suspects and Best Actor in the embarrassing-in-retrospect American Beauty. But if I were writing Spacey’s life story — “…people spent a lot of time wondering if he was gay. THE END.” — I’d give the honor to Se7en, David Fincher’s psychological thriller about the septet of deadly sins where Spacey plays John Doe.

This is the part where I’d say “spoiler alert,” if we weren’t talking about a 20-year-old movie.

Spacey’s fantastically soft-spoken, a far cry from his scenery chewing on House of Cards. John Doe is toying with Brad Pitt’s David Mills, making him feel uncomfortable without revealing the reason why. It’s a wonderful performance, one that won him the coveted Best Villain award at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards (over Joe Pesci in Casino!), but it was first offered to someone else, an equally reserved and thin-haired… musician? *record scratch*

REM frontman Michael Stipe turned down the chance to become an actor, by refusing a lead role in 1995 David Fincher movie Se7en. Stipe reveals, “I have been close to appearing in a number of films. I was offered the part of the serial killer in Se7en. The problem was, after I agreed, the record label wanted the band to tour and there was no way I could do both. I have to give up the part and they gave it to Kevin.” (Via)

Stipe would’ve had to film Se7en soon after the release of Monster, and the tour he’s referring to was R.E.M.’s first in half a decade. It was a huge success, if physically damaging, and earned the band a lot of money. Then again, Stipe didn’t get to cut Gwyneth Paltrow’s head off, so…

Meanwhile, here’s Stipe’s on-screen debut.