Kevin Spacey as the president of United States in his Netflix series “House of Cards.” | NETFLIX.COM
Kevin Spacey is finished. No one will be able to look at him again without thinking about the fact that when he was 26, he cornered a 14-year-old boy on his bed and tried to force himself on the boy sexually. While Spacey said that he had no recollection of the attack on actor Anthony Rapp in 1986 and said that he must have been drunk if it happened and he was sorry, neither that excuse nor his attempts to come out as a gay man after a lifetime in the closet are going to help him.
Rapp, now 46, told BuzzFeed that when he was 14 and on Broadway performing in “Precious Sons” and Spacey was in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Spacey invited Rapp and a 17-year-old friend of Rapp’s to the Limelight disco (where they got in despite being underage) and a few days later to a party at his apartment, where Rapp went unaccompanied and found himself the only teen there. Rapp said he got bored and went to Spacey’s bedroom to watch TV while the party continued past midnight.
Rapp told BuzzFeed, “My memory was that I thought, ‘Oh, everybody’s gone. Well, yeah, I should probably go home,’” but Spacey “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk. He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me. He was trying to seduce me. I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”
Rapp told BuzzFeed of the turmoil the incident has caused him over the years, especially when he and Spacey crossed paths.
Spacey issued a statement saying he doesn’t remember the incident, but “if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feeling he describes having carried with him all these years.”
Spacey also said this “has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” but he only admits to being gay — not someone with a terrible reputation for preying on other young actors throughout his life.
Since Spacey will no longer be a powerful movie star with the ability to make or break careers, many of the boys and men he preyed upon over the last 30 years will no longer be silent. Stories of Spacey making unwanted sexual advances on attractive young men on his movie shoots have abounded over the years and now these testimonies will be taken seriously and reported widely, and Spacey will go the way of those who have abused their power such as Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein and the men exposed for serial sexual predation just in the last two weeks: political reporter Mark Halperin, movie director James Toback, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish V, and Atlantic magazine contributing editor Leon Wieseltier.
With one in two women saying that they have been sexually harassed on the job — and an untold number of men — there are thousands of powerful, repellant men who are getting the message that the jig is up. No more power, no more ability to coerce sex. As the predator-in-chief infamously said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” And when you’re not, you just get your face slapped.
Anthony Rapp in John G. Young's recent film “Bwoy.” | BREAKING GLASS PICTURES
Spacey’s career on screen and stage — with two Oscars and a Tony and a Golden Globe Award — did manage to thrive in the closet. It will not survive this. Netflix immediately canceled his “House of Cards” series — though the sixth season was already in the works. (Production on that has now been halted indefinitely, according to the Washington Post.) Who will want to cast him in anything now?
Spacey’s desperate attempt to claim membership in the gay community (“I choose now to live as a gay man”) is being rejected for the insult that it is. Out actor/ comedian Wanda Sykes wrote, “No no no no no! You do not get to ‘choose’ to hide under the rainbow! Kick rocks!”
Out actor Zachary Quinto wrote, “I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years.”
And Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD said, “This is not a coming-out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances. The media and public should not gloss over that.”
Shortly after being knighted in 1953, Sir John Gielgud, then 49, was arrested for having sex with a guy in a loo. He thought his career was over, but he survived and thrived because despite the fact that such sex was illegal and prosecutions of gay men were common, most people make a distinction between consensual and forced sex. For his work as artistic director of the Old Vic in London, Spacey was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2010 and a Knight Commander in 2015, but in the wake of these developments Queen Elizabeth may take them back.
Coming out in the acting profession is harder than some other professions, but not as hard, say, as trying to survive as gay in Epypt or Chechnya or Uganda — or Mississippi for that matter. Kevin Spacey now acknowledges a sexual and relational life with men — something he was able to enjoy because of the sacrifice of countless others who came out and fought for the elimination of anti-sodomy laws and the passage of laws banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination. No one is beyond redemption and forgiveness, but Spacey is showing no real signs of understanding the damage he has done to himself and others. Curtain down.