The Story Behind the Kevin Spacey ‘Photobomb’ Moment

Christina Sander was visiting Boston when the actor jumped into her picture at the Public Garden.

Photos via Christina Sander.

Photos via Christina Sander

When Christina Sander came to Boston for a quick trip, she had no idea her time in the city would lead to a photo of her in front of a local landmark going viral.

But after “American Beauty” actor Kevin Spacey, who was in Boston visiting victims of the Marathon bombing, jumped into her picture as she posed by the George Washington monument, that’s exactly what happened.

After the picture circulated all day online, via, Boston magazine finally caught up with Sander, who was in New York City continuing her visit to the United States. Sander broke down what happened in the moments before, and after,  she got “photobombed” by the Hollywood star.

What happened in the photo, exactly? Was Kevin Spacey jogging by?

We were walking through Boston Common in the afternoon and were actually on our way back to get dinner when my friend, Ben Smith (who took the photo), asked me to pose in front of the statue. He took a picture, and then I noticed someone running directly toward me. As he [came] closer, I realized it was Kevin Spacey. He stopped right next to me, posed and yelled “This is a photobomb!” I know it looks like I’m screaming in the photo, but I actually think I stopped breathing for a few seconds. And then he just jogged on, looking back 10 meters down the road and [waving] at me.

Did you realize who it was, or just think it was some crazy, random old man?

I was sure it was Kevin Spacey (I’m a big fan, I think I’ve watched American Beauty 50 times. I’d like to think I’d be able to recognize him anywhere.) But it was all so surreal that I had to check the camera several times afterward to make sure. And Ben actually didn’t realize it was Kevin Spacey until I started yelling it after he disappeared. So I was also very happy that Ben actually took the photo.

Did you get to talk to him after the photo was taken?

Unfortunately I didn’t say anything to him, I was just completely starstruck.

Were you surprised the photo went viral?

Yes—I must say the whole viral thing, seeing the photo everywhere online, is almost as unreal as the experience itself. But I think it’s really funny and after all the things that have happened in Boston recently, I’m happy that this photo could create a bit of joy.

What was your reaction immediately after it happened, as he ran off? 

The first thing I said was just “that was Kevin Spacey” about 10 times. Then I looked at the photo several times laughing, and then I told Ben how anti-climatic it would be if someone stole the camera now or it got broken. And I believe I then said, “this is definitely my new profile picture.” Obviously not knowing how many people would actually end up seeing it

How long were you in Boston for?

I came to Boston early Monday morning after having studied for four months in Canada. The semester finished and Boston was our first stop on a two-month road trip. I absolutely loved Boston, by the way, and we ended up staying half a day longer than planned. We left [Wednesday] afternoon and are now in New York.