Plus: See a new still of the actor in the film

By Shirley Li
September 15, 2017 at 09:00 AM EDT

When Ridley Scott asked Kevin Spacey to play oil tycoon J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World, his drama about the 1973 kidnapping of Getty’s teen grandson, Spacey was flattered at first — until he found out Getty’s age at the time of the abduction.

“I realized that J. Paul Getty was 81 when the event happened,” the 58-year-old actor says with a laugh. “I quickly went into the bathroom and I took a look at myself in the mirror and I thought, ‘Well, I can only hope [Ridley] doesn’t say, ‘Come as you are.'”

Luckily for Spacey, the director didn’t. Instead, Scott had a team of makeup artists spend five hours every day on set to transform the Oscar winner into the billionaire. And even though most audiences probably have no clue what Getty looked or sounded like, Spacey says he didn’t mind the process because the mask and makeup helped him greatly with his performance.

“I would stand in front of the mirror and not see myself,” he explains. “I saw this man. It was one of the most remarkable experiences that I’ve had as an actor. I can’t even begin to describe what it felt like.”

In fact, Spacey says he can’t recall any other role in his career that can compare to this transformation. “I really felt like I was able to become this man,” he says. “This for me stands out as a particularly unique experience.”

See an exclusive image of Spacey as Getty below:

Aidan Monaghan/TriStar

All the Money in the World arrives in theaters via TriStar Pictures and Imperative Entertainment on Dec. 8.