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‘The Ventriloquist’: Short film sees Kevin Spacey confront a wooden dummy (and himself)

Will Perkins
Wide Screen
June 8, 2012

Since making it big in Hollywood with Oscar-winning roles in both "The Usual Suspects" and "American Beauty," actor Kevin Spacey has become something of a patron of the arts. When he's not acting, Spacey is often producing. Through his production company, Trigger Street, Spacey has executive-produced films like "21," "Fanboys," and "The Social Network."

But the "Se7en" actor doesn't limit himself to just movies. In 2006, Spacey became the artistic director of London's historic Old Vic theatre, helping breathe new life into the stage productions by bringing in the kind of major talent that a star like Spacey could attract. Now Spacey's production house has teamed with Jameson Whiskey to help foster emerging film talent around the world with the JamesonFirst Shot — a short film competition in which Spacey lends himself out as an actor to promising young filmmakers.

The resulting shorts from the United States, South Africa, and Russia are an awesome mix of weird, funny, and charming, but the highlight is definitely "The Ventriloquist," a film by American Benjamin Leavitt. In the film, Spacey plays a shy and lonely ventriloquist whose puppet, Higgins, is much more outgoing (and outspoken) than he is. At just over 10 minutes in length, "The Ventriloquist" packs a whole lot of funny into its short running time and delivers one heck of a performance by Spacey as both the puppet master and the dummy. Watch "The Ventriloquist" below.

Leavitt's short film is essentially just an extra-long commercial for Jameson (although the whiskey doesn't actually appear in the movie), but it's a lot of fun and an excellent reminder of why Spacey is one of the most talented actors working today.

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