Spalding Gray was an actor, screenwriter, and playwright who is best known for his film Swimming to Cambodia, a film version of a monologue he wrote based on his experiences as an actor in the film Killing Fields.
The interesting thing about Gray was that he was an actor, and then he wrote a monologue about being an actor playing a real person, and then he made a film about him presenting a monologue about being an actor playing a real person. Later he wrote a novel that was based on his real life experiences growing up, and then wrote and performed a monologue about his experiences writing the novel based on his experiences growing up.
Check out a clip from Swimming to Cambodia here.
In June 2001 he was in a car crash while on holiday in Ireland. His injuries were severe, and he began to from depression. In January 2004 he went missing. Because of his state of mind, and a previous suicide attempt in 2002, the presumption was that he was dead. In March, the body showed up in the East River. He had apparently jumped off the side of the Staten Island Ferry.
Find out what it feels like to find Spalding Gray's body by reading this brief article in Esquire magazine, written by the young man who found him. I particularly like the last paragraph, which I will quote here:
I got in touch with his wife, and I mentioned that I'd never try to exploit my discovery. She said, "No, please, do whatever you like. You don't have to be tasteful. This is Spalding Gray. All he ever talked about was his own death."