The down­fall of Kevin Spacey

Wiped from his lat­est movie, sacked from House of Cards, his ca­reer is over…

The Weekend Australian - - FRONT PAGE - CHRISSY ILEY LOS AN­GE­LES Chrissy Iley is an award-win­ning English jour­nal­ist who has worked in Los An­ge­les for more than 20 years.

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...

An­thony Rapp, whose claims have set off a chain of al­le­ga­tions

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