HomeTVDespite Acquittal, Kevin Spacey Faces Uphill Battle for Hollywood Roles

Despite Acquittal, Kevin Spacey Faces Uphill Battle for Hollywood Roles


The two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey said last month that he was ready to return to acting after years in the wilderness following sexual assault allegations.

“I know that there are people right now who are ready to hire me the moment I am cleared of these charges in London,” Mr. Spacey told a German magazine, referring to accusations that he had assaulted four men. “The second that happens, they’re ready to move forward.”

Mr. Spacey was right in several ways: A British jury found him not guilty of nine counts of sexual assault this week, nearly a year after a federal jury in Manhattan cleared him of battery in a civil case filed by the actor Anthony Rapp. And he has two small projects awaiting release, with directors who could not be more publicly supportive.

But the starry Hollywood roles, like Spacey’s conniving politician in “House of Cards” and droll advertising executive in “American Beauty,” may not come back anytime soon, if at all.

Despite Mr. Spacey’s legal successes, his public perception is tarnished and a turnoff to studios and streaming services desperate to avoid controversy, said Stephen Galloway, the dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

“He’s in real trouble,” said Mr. Galloway, who previously served as executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter. “On the 0-to-10 scale, this is like a minus one.”

During Mr. Spacey’s trial in Britain, he testified about the damage to his career after the public accusations began to emerge in 2017. “There was a rush to judgment and before the first question was asked or answered, I lost my job, I lost my reputation, I lost everything,” he said.

Within months of the initial allegation, Mr. Spacey’s character was killed off in the final season of “House of Cards,” his scenes as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World” were reshot with a different actor, and Netflix scrapped the film “Gore,” in which he played the writer Gore Vidal.

Beyond two recently filmed parts listed on IMDb, a movie database, it is unclear whether Mr. Spacey is attached to any new projects. His team did not respond to a request for comment, and Mr. Spacey did not provide career insight after being acquitted this week. “I imagine that many of you can understand that there’s a lot for me to process,” he said from the courthouse steps.

Mike Paul, a public relations expert who specializes in reputation and crisis management, said that considering the nature of the accusations Mr. Spacey faced, he must avoid “pouring gasoline back on issues that you don’t want gasoline on.” Hollywood, he said, wants to see a time of reflection and quiet analysis.

The best bet, Mr. Galloway said, is for Mr. Spacey to develop projects for his production company, Trigger Street, or to pursue indie projects that value his acting prowess or consider the publicity a boon.

Mr. Spacey’s two known upcoming roles are in minor movies: “Control,” a British film in which he plays a hacker who takes over a politician’s smart car (his part is voice only), and “Peter Five Eight,” a comedic thriller in which he plays a shadowy stranger who arrives in a small mountainside community.

Michael Zaiko Hall, the writer and director of “Peter Five Eight,” said in an email that the film, which does not have an official release date, represented a return to the smaller independent films with which Mr. Spacey started his career.

“We have here a double Oscar winner with legendary screen presence whose name has just been cleared,” Hall said. “I imagine there will be a thaw period, followed by a re-emergence into the culture.”

Gene Fallaize, the writer and director of “Control,” said that he approached Mr. Spacey for the voice role last fall, and that the recent verdict showed “our gamble had paid off.” Before the jury’s decision, his movie had distribution deals in Germany, Russia and the Middle East. Now, Mr. Fallaize said, it was negotiating with American and British distributors.

Mr. Fallaize added that Mr. Spacey might need to do independent movies for a year or two, showing he could generate commercial returns, before major studios would be prepared to work with him. Those movies might have to be in countries that have a more “lenient” view to allegations made against stars, Mr. Fallaize added.

“It’s more likely for Europe to be receptive,” agreed Dominik Sedlar, a Croatian-born director and friend of Mr. Spacey’s whose father made a movie this year in which the actor played the country’s first president.

Mr. Sedlar said that although Mr. Spacey had twice been vindicated by juries, Hollywood studios might keep shunning the actor “rather than admit they were wrong.”

In recent years, both the Venice and Cannes film festivals have been happy to showcase work by directors and actors whose reputation has been stained in the United States, including Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and Johnny Depp. On Thursday, spokeswomen for both festivals said their artistic directors were unavailable to comment on Mr. Spacey.

There was similar reluctance from members of the London theater world, where Mr. Spacey was a regular star in the 1990s and 2000s and served as the artistic director of the Old Vic theater from 2004 to 2015. Representatives for 15 producers, West End theater owners and artistic directors either turned down or did not respond to interview requests to discuss Mr. Spacey’s future.

Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, Britain’s major theater newspaper, said in an email that Mr. Spacey’s return was “highly unlikely.” In 2017 the Old Vic published the findings of an independent investigation into Mr. Spacey’s tenure that revealed that 20 unnamed people accused him of unstated inappropriate behavior.

“Those allegations have never been satisfactorily addressed by Spacey,” Smith said. “Unless they are, I can’t see him working in London theater again.”

Comebacks have always been hard in Hollywood, which may be politically liberal but is artistically and financially conservative. For those who have succeeded, such as Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr., the road was long.

“You need to completely reset your reputation,” Mr. Galloway said. In “fortress Hollywood, the drawbridge is pulled up, and it’s a dangerous moat to swim across.”

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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