The downfall of Kevin Spacey
Wiped from his latest movie, sacked from House of Cards, his career is over…
Fame is toxic. It requires a sense of responsibility, as Kevin Spacey is now learning.
The actor has been removed from the Sony movie All the Money in the World even though it is due to be released in six weeks. He has been removed from his lead role as Francis Underwood in House of Cards and Netflix is no longer working with him. Gore, in which he plays Gore Vidal, also has hit the dust. He has been fired by his agency, CAA, as well as his longtime publicist, Staci Wolfe, which signals they clearly believe his career as an A-list actor — or any kind of actor — is over.
The moral of the tale is you can’t sexually assault young men and teenagers, particularly from inside the closet, and get away with it. No, no, no, not in this postWeinstein age of Hollywood.
British publicist and fame guru Mark Borkowski, author of The Fame Formula, says scandals of similar proportion have been going on in Hollywood since the words silver and screen appeared together.
“In the old days, at the hint of a scandal, the star would be put on an ocean liner and six weeks later, by the time they had reached their destination, the scandal would be over,” he says. “But in the days of instant media, it’s different. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Now it seems they are guilty until proven innocent, and the trial is by the media itself.”
What does he think of All the Money in the World being restructured with Christopher Plummer replacing Spacey as John Paul Getty? “Hollywood is no longer the land of dreams but the land of corporate finance. Once they worked out that no one would want to see the movie with Spacey in it, technology means he could be instantly replaced by Christopher Plummer.”
Sony must be pleased with itself — there’s no need for a marketing budget because a few weeks ago no one knew much about this movie based on Getty — the richest man in the world — refusing to pay the ransom when his grandson John Paul Getty III had been kidnapped. Now everybody knows about it.
Apparently 87-year-old Plummer was director Ridley Scott’s first choice for the role but Scott was told he needed a bigger star. Now he’s playing it like Sony is standing by him. Sony obviously felt it had too much to lose because who in the world would pay to see a pedophile play John Paul Getty? Word on the Hollywood streets is Spacey not only deserves to lose his career but should be castrated.
What started with Harvey Weinstein certainly didn’t end there. Weinstein allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted women who worked for him or who he wished to cast in movies. Spacey fiddled about with children. See — much worse. No one’s going to forgive him. They’ve heard enough evidence that is condemning.
I’ve never been an advocate of the #metoo stance — one person comes out and makes the accusation, then others who have been abused feel comfortable doing the same.
As artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre from 2004 to 2015, Spacey was socially active in London, still denying he was a gay man. Gay men that I knew in their late 20s and early 30s felt flattered when he touched their bottom in the Groucho Club. They’d been touched by an Oscar winner, a Tony winner, a Hollywood star. They felt elevated. This is how yesterday’s flattery is today’s disgust.
The Hollywood gay commun- ity is voicing its disapproval of Spacey. Because he didn’t come out, they feel it gave gay haters and the Christian right the chance to say this Hollywood star was ashamed and embarrassed about being gay, therefore everyone should be.
But what is enraging them now is the fact gayness has been linked with pedophilia. The timing of his coming out has been met with a scathing response — that is, after fter Spacey had already been accused of sexually harassing Anthony Rapp when the Star Trek: Discovery actor was 14. If Spacey hoped to find warmth in the arms of the gay community, he was mistaken.
Wolfe, before she felt it was impossible to continue representing Spacey, said last week he was “taking time to seek evaluation and treatment”. This speaks volumes. It’s very rare that both agent and publicist would drop a client so immediately.
Being replaced in a movie six weeks from release that will miss its American premiere, however much it’s a marketing exec’s dream, is pretty serious. So is being fired from House of Cards, the now-suspended Netflix thriller that has so dominated the Emmys and Golden Globes since 2014.
I loved House of Cards. I loved the way Spacey’s character, Francis Underwood, was so manipulative, cruel, underhand, ruthless and without morals, and now it turns out he was just playing himself. Do I feel personally cheated? Yes I do. Because I no longer feel I’m seeing acting that makes me ache it’s so good. I feel I’m seeing just another side of a very sleazy man.
It also irks me that I mistook Spacey for an intelligent man — his gayness was an open secret. Nothing he would ever talk about or admit to. I thought it was quite clever that he never allowed his sexuality to define his roles. Yet last week when Rapp alleged that when he was 14 in 1986 Spacey had sexually assaulted him, Spacey chose that moment to release the statement that he was gay. “I choose now to live as a gay man.” It was the “now” word that got me. Like overnight he’s suddenly gay. Like he was ever not gay.
In the same sentence he said he couldn’t remember the encounter with Rapp more than 30 years ago. Perhaps he couldn’t remember because there were so many. He knew that his game was up and other boys would make their allegations. And still he did nothing. He just waited for the sleaze to hit the fan.
And #metoo to come into play. After the first teenager, there were two more and a third who didn’t want to be named. Then eight current or former House of Cards workers complained that Spacey made the production a toxic workplace, with one of them alleging sexual assault.
Another personal source from House of Cards says that regardless of his sexuality no one liked him. “It was all about him,” he says. “He didn’t care about anybody else and the more success he had with House of Cards, the worse he became. It just pushed him over the top, so I guess that means the harder he fell.”
Jon Bernthal, an actor who had admired Spacey, says his behaviour on the set of Baby Driver was also reprehensible. Not in a sexual way; he was just rude and a bully. “Working with him made me lose all respect for him, and I was enormously disappointed,” he says.
And this is the new Hollywood. We no longer apparently tolerate bullies, yet bullying goes on every day. I’ve seen an A-list actress with her personal assistant in a celebrity shoe shop on the Sunset Plaza. The star in question refused to speak directly to the sales assistant and barked orders at her PA. It was abusive. Her assistant simply shrugged and got on with it.
Hollywood personal assistants are well paid. Is that the point? That money solves everything and if your pay cheque is high enough, it’s OK to be abused? Certainly the pay for an A-list actor is millions of dollars. Does that mean they are also abused? Or does that mean that they are entitled to give out millions of dollars’ worth of abuse, sexual or otherwise?
Fame is, of course, toxic. If you treat people badly it will catch up with you. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but in Spacey’s case his behaviour stretches out across decades. One can’t help wondering was it only one 14-year-old boy in 1986. US filmmaker Tony Montana claims he was groped by the actor in a Los Angeles bar in 2003. He says he was left with post-traumatic stress disorder for six months after Spacey “forcefully” grabbed his crotch.
The 16-year-old Justin Dawes had a situation when Spacey was 29 that he describes as “sleazy and manipulative”. Dawes met Spacey after a performance of a play that Spacey was in and Spacey invited him and a friend to his apartment to watch Chinatown. Instead he made cocktails and played porn on the TV. “We all had a drink, and we were kind of like, ‘Oh, no one else is coming?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, no one else decided to come,’ and he never mentioned that this porn was playing,” Dawes says. “It was really awkward.”
A journalist in the early 2000s interviewed him at his office in the Old Vic theatre and Spacey invited him to a club where he began reaching between his legs and grabbing his genitals. The journalist says he told the actor he was in a relationship with a woman and when he tried to leave the club Spacey was furious.
“This man was screaming in my face outside of the main bar area, red-faced, spit flying out of his mouth, screaming at me with fury because I didn’t want to f..k him,” he claims. “He was actually saying that I did want to and I was a coward. That was his tactic. It was unbelievable.”
It doesn’t seem like many people have anything endearing to say about Spacey and, yes, it does seem a little harsh, and I have a feeling that the men who have spoken out against him are not the only ones. They are obviously now ashamed that they were once flattered by his attention. I know this means he is guilty until proven innocent, but he seems to be doing a really bad job of coming over as innocent of anything.
His story is made more rancid by the fact the people he had abused seemed to respect his decision to stay in the closet and didn’t want to “out” him. The covert nature of the abuse is where the poison starts, and start it has. But it will not be where it finishes.
There are many other gay actors in Hollywood who fear for their careers, who don’t want to swap action leads for gay best friends, who don’t want to sacrifice a subsequent career in politics. But in the new Hollywood there are fewer secrets and this toxic wildfire is impossible to stop. Come out, come out, wherever you are … or someone is coming to get you.
‘The more success he had with House of Cards, the worse he became. It just pushed him over the top’ A PERSONAL SOURCE
Kevin Spacey last year, main picture; above, from left, in Richard III at London’s Old Vic, with Ansel Elgort in the film Baby Driver, as Jean Paul Getty in a trailer for All the Money in the World and with House of Cards co-star Robin Wright at a Netflix Q&A in 2013
Anthony Rapp, whose claims have set off a chain of allegations