How Kevin Spacey, the darling of cinema’s anti-hero, became a Hollywood pariah

Accused of sexual assault, the actor fell to the height of his glory, after five seasons spent on the poster of the series House of Cards.

After a flourishing career in theater and cinema, where his anti-hero characters won him two Oscars, Kevin Spacey was caught up in a series of accusations of sexual assault, which relegated him to the rank of persona non grata in Hollywood.

Built on counter-intuitive roles – fortysomething loser wanting a teenager in American Beautypsychopathic serial killer in Sevenor cartoon villain in Superman Returns -, the actor’s career came to a halt at the end of 2017. The headliner of the series House of Cards was then one of the first artists swept away by the #MeToo global wave. Denounced by several young men with similar accounts, he disappeared despite his denials from screens and boards. Since then, his public appearances have been limited to his disputes before the courts. He is due to appear in London on Friday on new charges dating back to the early 2000s.

Born in New Jersey, the 63-year-old actor grew up in California. Briefly educated in a military school, before being sent back, he grew up there under the authority of a father whom he recently described as “neo-Nazi” and “white supremacist” during a trial in New York. The father harbored an aversion to homosexuals and did not appreciate his son’s passion for the theater, according to the actor. This did not prevent him from joining the prestigious conservatory of the Juilliard School in New York in 1979.

human darkness

On the boards, the actor met his first success in 1986 in a classic of American theater, The Long Journey to Night by Eugene O’Neill. The same year, he made his first film appearance, with a minor role as a subway pilferer in The burn. Human darkness quickly becomes his trademark. Cynical Hollywood producer in Swimming with Sharks in 1994, Spacey won his first Oscar the following year for a supporting role as a mysterious mobster in Usual Suspects. In 1995, he also burst the screen as a fanatical serial killer, in the apocalyptic Seven by David Fincher. Before achieving fame in 1999 with American Beautyfor which he won the Oscar for best actor, thanks to his character as a frustrated forty-year-old who rebels against the banality of his suburban life and becomes infatuated with a friend of his daughter.

Beyond Hollywood, the actor does not abandon the theater. In 2003, he was appointed artistic director of the Old Vic in London, a historic establishment which he directed for more than ten years. He plays Shakespeare there and hosts modern stagings of great American classics. A London era that is now catching up with him. In addition to the new charges to which he must respond on Friday, the actor is being prosecuted in the United Kingdom for sexual assaults on three men between March 2005 and April 2013. Allegations he has always rejected.

Ghost from #MeToo

The actor fell to the height of his fame, after five seasons spent on the poster of the series House of Cards, global success of Netflix where he camps an American parliamentarian without faith or law, ready to do anything to become president. In October 2017, three weeks after the #MeToo surge unleashed against producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Anthony Rapp explained that he had been sexually assaulted at age 14 by Kevin Spacey in 1986.

The star immediately presents his “sincerest apologies” for his “drunk and deeply inappropriate (male) behavior”. An act dictated according to him by his agents, which he now regrets. “I learned the lesson, never apologize for something you didn’t do”he dropped in October during his civil trial in New York. He also denied trying to create a diversion by publicly coming out as gay – an open secret in the industry – during the scandal. Anthony Rapp’s accusations, quickly followed by other allegations in the United States and the United Kingdom, caused Hollywood to relegate him to phantom status. In the space of two months, Kevin Spacey has been landed from House of Cards and urgently erased from the film All the Money in the World : all his takes had to be replayed by the Canadian Christopher Plummer. Deprived of the scene, the actor has never been sentenced in court. A New York court recently found him not guilty, and sexual assault charges against an 18-year-old bar worker in Massachusetts were dropped in 2019.

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How Kevin Spacey, the darling of cinema’s anti-hero, became a Hollywood pariah