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Kevin Spacey is ready for a comeback, but is Hollywood?

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When news leaked last month that disgraced House of cards actor Kevin Spacey Having landed his first acting job in over four years, taking on a supporting role in an Italian independent film, the reaction on social media was instant and intense.

It was enough to propel veteran actress Vanessa Redgrave, whose husband Franco Nero directs and stars in the film, L’umo Che Disegno Dio (The man who drew God), to publicly distance himself from the project. “While there have been discussions about the possibility of her joining the cast, she will not appear in the film,” her representative said in a statement.

Kevin Spacey is in Turin to shoot a film called “The Man Who Drew God” by Franco Nero. (Stefano Guidi / Getty Images)

For Spacey’s alleged victims, the news of his casting was another unwelcome reminder of a period of time they would rather forget. “It’s definitely a pain in the … every time he does something that becomes a story,” said one person, who claims Spacey groped him in London in 2007. Speaking to Variety On condition of anonymity, he explained that every time Spacey makes the news, he is inundated with interview requests.

“In most other similar circumstances in society, an element of contrition is required before reintegration. That has not existed at all. Instead, what we have had are gruesome and gory Christmas messages every year,” he said the person, referring to the annual home videos Spacey has posted every December on YouTube for the past three years.

READ MORE: Kevin Spacey seen in Italy filming his first role since sexual misconduct allegations in 2017

The actor’s fall from grace began in 2017 when Rent other Star Trek: Discovery Actor Anthony Rapp first publicly claimed that Spacey had made a non-consensual sexual advance towards him when he was 14 years old. The story of Rapp, who appeared in BuzzFeed News, was followed by a cascade of misconduct allegations against Spacey. (Rapp declined to comment for this story.)

Kevin Spacey in Turin, Italy
Actor Kevin Spacey stars in the Italian film “ The Man Who Drew God, ” his first film role after the period of oblivion that began in 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Although Spacey apparently apologized to Rapp shortly after the article was published, Spacey’s statement, in which he claimed not to remember the incident and tried to distract himself from the allegations by publicly stating his sexual orientation for the first time, was widely criticized.

In the UK, the actor is still potentially facing criminal charges. A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution says Variety: “We are examining a file of evidence that the Metropolitan Police sent us.” It is believed that within that file are complaints stemming from an 11-year period during which Spacey was artistic director of the Old Vic theater in London. In 2017, the theater admitted that it had received 20 personal testimonies of “alleged misconduct” by Spacey.

READ MORE: Italian producer Louis Nero defends the casting of Kevin Spacey in his new film

In 2018, Spacey pleaded not guilty to an indecent assault charge involving a teenager on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The charge was dropped after the alleged victim also dropped a civil lawsuit. Elsewhere, Los Angeles officials failed to file two complaints of sexual assault, one due to the statute of limitations and the other after the alleged victim’s death.

Kevin Spacey was followed by a cascade of misconduct allegations. (AP / AAP)

Nonetheless, the two-time Oscar-winning actor continues to be embroiled in multiple legal battles stemming from the allegations against him, including a civil lawsuit brought by two plaintiffs, Rapp and another alleged victim known only as “CD,” as well as confidential arbitration with House of cards producer Media Rights Capital. (As of 2020, Variety owner Penske Media owns a joint venture with Media Rights Capital called PMRC.)

CD alleges that when she was 14 years old, she had multiple non-consensual sexual encounters with Spacey, including an attempted rape. CD’s lawsuit was dismissed last month after he refused to relinquish his anonymity.

READ MORE: Kevin Spacey Delivers Annual Christmas Message: ‘It Gets Better’

“The scope of Spacey’s strategy to remain viable, as it is, has been limited to taking advantage of what he considers his most valuable quality as an actor: his ability to unsettle and deliver truly grotesque performances, as we have seen in a more recent version. for the last four years with these Christmas videos, these poetry interpretations whose lyrics defiantly refuse to divorce the character from the man, etc., “said Kiran Nagendran, senior reputation advisor at British agency Montfort Communications, citing an audience unexpected August 2019 appearance at a museum in Rome, where Spacey gave a poetry reading.

“Now these can delight their fans and will utterly disgust their alleged victims,” ​​continues Nagendran. Ultimately, however, it will depend on whether the industry deems it profitable enough to deliver these haunting performances on the big screen again, and Nero’s film will help determine that while the art house is not Hollywood, by course “.

Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey is currently in the midst of an attempt to revive his acting career. (AP / AAP)

Certainly Redgrave’s husband, Nero, and his producing partner, Louis Nero, seem to think that Spacey is still profitable. “Both Franco and I know him,” Louis told the Italian newspaper. the Republic of Spacey’s participation in L’umo Che Disegno Dio. “Kevin has a lot of respect for Franco. We sent him the script and he loved the project.”

And despite the ignominy, Spacey still has a significant following on social media, with more than half a million fans on Instagram and 4.1 million on Twitter. His latest screen appearances, those three YouTube videos, each released around Christmas, have combined 16.7 million views, even if many of the comments on the posts are unfavorable to the actor.

READ MORE: Judi Dench says the works of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey should be respected

But his return poses a dilemma for the entertainment industry in terms of complicity, or at least the optics of it, especially since Spacey was apparently allowed to operate with impunity for decades. (As part of the arbitration with Media Rights Capital, more damning allegations have surfaced about Spacey’s behavior on set, including an incident in 2012 when, after burning his hand, he groped a “House of Cards” production assistant who was driving Spacey to the hospital). “I think there were certainly a lot of people in the industry who knew [about Spacey’s harassment]”said the anonymous person who spoke to Variety.

Kevin Spacey
The return of Kevin Spacey poses a dilemma for the entertainment industry. (AAP)

Spacey’s current attempt to resurrect his acting career also precipitates a conversation on the thorniest issue of whether someone accused of sexual harassment or assault should be able to rehabilitate his career in the entertainment industry. After all, there are cases of beloved actors and musical artists who have enjoyed success despite being convicted of equally serious crimes, such as Mark Wahlberg, who was briefly jailed in 1988 for attacking a Vietnamese, and rapper and producer Jay. . -Z, who in 2001 pleaded guilty to stabbing a music executive at a party.

“When we talk about rehabilitation and redemption, I think we should think about […] What do you need to do that really shows that you understand that your behavior is not acceptable? “says Dame Heather Rabbatts, President of Time’s Up UK. Variety.

While Time’s Up UK is primarily focused on encouraging the reporting of current and historical abuses within the industry, the suggestion of organizing an independent standards body is one that Rabbatts notes could also offer sanctions and a way back for who face such accusations. .

“It seems to me that we have to think about how people not only ask for forgiveness, but how they really understand what was inappropriate about their behavior. And how do they understand what their behavior means in the future?” Discount explains.

Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey has not shown much palpable recognition of his alleged behavior / (Getty)

“What we have to do is think of a path, if you will, to redemption, that leads people through the recognition of their behavior in some way.”

In Spacey’s case, the main problem is that the actor has not shown palpable recognition of his alleged behavior, much less remorse, at least in the public mind.

Representatives for Spacey did not respond. Variety requests for comments.

Of course, a supporting role in an Italian independent feature doesn’t necessarily represent a way back to Hollywood. Still, as his former victim points out, the industry must consider Spacey’s rehab not just from a financial but also an ethical perspective.

“Whoever is working with him now, whoever recruits or hires him, surely must have a certain degree of confidence in both legal and mental responsibility to know that this will not happen again under his supervision,” said this person. “If any grip or runner in [Nero’s] The movie has a similar experience, which isn’t impossible given its track record – that’s not just Spacey. It also depends a lot on those who put him back in that position. “

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