As clips played from some of his most standout works like "The Negotiator," "American Beauty" and "The Usual Suspects," Spacey said he had not seen them since the actual screening of the film. He also noted a scene from "Glengarry Glen Ross" with his "friend, mentor and father figure," Jack Lemmon, whom he credits as the impetus for moving to New York and becoming an actor.
Penn Badgley said Spacey offered the same sort of guidance during the filming of "Margin Call" when Badgley was 24.
"Having him around was just very inspirational for somebody young and kind of like sort of lackadaisical," Badgley said of himself during the cocktail hour at the 583 Park Ave. venue. "He showed me the power of talent combined with real discipline and taking your craft seriously, and having a joyous kind of reverence for the work."
"I didn't prepare a fucking thing," said Spacey as he accepted his award. "I've been taking notes and I have them with me now, so you're fucked."
Spacey began his 20-minute-long heartfelt speech by checking on the well-being of Museum of the Moving Image co-chairman Herbert Schlosser, who fainted earlier in the evening while speaking with the actor and was taken to the hospital.
"I had a very nice conversation with him as he was lying on his back," Spacey said.
The actor got choked up as he began speaking about two of the most important people in his life. "I have been enormously lucky. I had a mother who was artistic who believed in the arts and exposing her children to the arts," he said. "I lost my mother 11 years ago but there's not a day that she's not hovering somewhere, egging me on. My mother is a presence in my life and always will be."And there are so many people along my path that have been instrumental, but one in particular who we got to watch up on that screen tonightâ¦," Spacey said of Lemmon.
"Jack had a philosophy -- and I'm going to close with this -- that he passed down to me, which is why I've done the work that I've done for the past 11 years at the Old Vic and Old Vic New Voices, and why I've created my own foundation," Spacey started. "'If you've done well,' he used to say all the time, 'if you've done well in the business you want to do well in, then it is your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down.'"
"So there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not enormously grateful for the people who believed in me, gave me a chance, and I know in my heart that if we all just keep a little bit of a 'Lemmon clause' in our hearts, we're all going to be OK."
Among those in attendance were former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Netflix's Ted Sarandos, SPC's Michael Barker, Sony TV's Steve Mosko, producers Beau Willimon and Dana Brunetti and Spacey's former co-stars including Samuel L. Jackson, Denis Leary and Kate Bosworth.
A great honor yesterday to take part in tribute to my friend and mentor, Kevin Spacey. Always will I be his Sandy Dee http://t.co/RepWil36HK--
Kate Bosworth (@katebosworth) April 10, 2014