Kevin Spacey needed a ''couple [of] drinks'' before hosting the Tony Awards.

The 'House of Cards' actor was a little bit nervous about taking the reins of the prestigious ceremony on Sunday (11.06.17) evening, but was hoping to use his worries in a ''positive'' way - and if that failed, he planned to hit the bottle.

Asked how he calms his nerves, he quipped: ''I drink heavily.''

He then added to 'Entertainment Tonight': ''When you've been around long enough, you learn how to use that adrenaline, you learn how to use those nerves in a positive way rather than a negative way so you just kinda drive through it and hope for your best.

''And have a couple [of] drinks!''

Although the ceremony, which honours excellence in theatre, was televised across the US, the 57-year-old actor wanted to focus on the audience in New York's Radio City Music Hall.

He explained: ''I hope we're able to entertain the 6,000 people that are in Radio City. That's really, for me, the most sort of focus and important thing to me. I'm not really thinking about the television audience.

''So if we can win over that crowd then I think it'll play in the telecast.''

Kevin - who previously won a Tony in 1991 and was nominated again in 1999 - opened the show by parodying a number of musicals that were in the running for awards, including

'Dear Evan Hansen', 'Groundhog Day', 'Come From Away', and 'Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812', in a skit about the difficult search for this year's host.

The veteran actor was joined on stage by Stephen Colbert, who sported a groundhog head and advised him to read off a teleprompter and not mess things up, while past host Whoopi Goldberg also made an appearance, and Billy Crystal sent a video message.

Billy said: ''I feel a little uncomfortable giving you advice because they did ask me. I was the 14th choice.''

The 'American Beauty' actor even poked fun at rumours about his sexuality as he dressed as Norma Desmond from 'Sunset Boulevard' to sing 'As If We Never Said Goodbye'.

He joked in song: ''I'm coming out -- wait, no no no no.''

Later in the show, Kevin was joined by his 'House of Cards' co-star Robin Wright as they dressed in character as President Frank Underwood and his wife Claire to hand the Best Musical nominees envelope to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Speaking as Frank, Kevin said: ''Mr. Miranda it is an honour and a privilege to shake the hand of the man who created 'Hamilton', the musical that does our nation proud.''

Lin-Manuel replied: ''It's an honour to meet you, sir.''

As often happens on the political drama, Kevin then turned to the camera and, mocking Bette Midler who had ignored the music to end her Best Actress in a Musical speech, said: ''Let's get the hell out of here before Bette Midler thanks anyone else.''