Appearing for the first time since #MeToo-era allegations derailed his career, the actor Kevin Spacey used a colorful Italian expression to thank the National Cinema Museum in the northern city of Turin on Monday for having the courage to invite him.
Spacey received a lifetime achievement award from the museum, discussed key roles during a master class, and then introduced the 1999 film American Beauty to a sold-out audience, for which he won his second acting Oscar. “I am truly blessed, grateful and humbled. And my heart is very full tonight to the National Museum of Cinematography for inviting me to ‘le palle’ tonight,” Spacey said, the Italian term for the male body part synonymous with courage, to cheers from the masterclass audience. .
“By presenting this award, they are making a strong case for artistic performance, and they should be commended for that,” Spacey said. Previous recipients of the Stella della Mole Award include actors Isabella Rossellini and Monica Bellucci and director Dario Argento.
The sold-out events were billed as Spacey’s first appearance in five years. After several sexual assault allegations surfaced, the actor lost his lead role on Netflix’s House of Cards and saw other opportunities dry up. Spacey did not directly address the allegations while accepting the award or during the hour-long lecture. But while noting the loyalty of many fans, he said: “The bond I share with them will not be easily broken by the unfettered, ever-changing mobocratic ties.
He thanked his manager Evan Lowenstein for his support, calling him “the brother I never had”. Spacey said he was also “hugely grateful” to Italian director Frank Nero, who hired him for the role in The Man Who Drew God, which was filmed in Turin. Spacey will be on hand when the film opens later this week in Rome.
After the master class, fans lined up to take selfies and get DVDs signed. “I actually missed him and I think he had a great role in the cinema. He made Netflix what it is today,” said Chiara Ottolini, referring to the huge success of House of Cards. “I’m so happy to see it’s coming back because we have to separate the men and the artists.
Mery Bicci traveled from Milan to see Spacey, whom she considers one of the best actors ever. She said she would travel even further. “When the scandal happened, I began to mourn because I knew very well that he would be ostracized immediately,” she said.
Spacey is due to stand trial in London in June on a dozen charges that he sexually assaulted four men between 2001 and 2013, including when he was artistic director of the city’s Old Vic theatre. He pleaded not guilty. In October, a federal jury in a New York civil case found that Spacey, 63, did not sexually abuse actor Anthony Rapp when they were both relatively unknown Broadway actors in 1986 and Rapp was 14 years old. Jurors deliberated for a little more than an hour before deciding that Rapp, now 50, had failed to prove his charges.
Spacey previously faced charges in Massachusetts that he groped a man in a bar. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.
A judge in Los Angeles upheld the arbitrator’s decision in August order Spacey to pay $30.9 million to the makers of House of Cards for breach of contract by sexually harassing crew members.
Elena Cortini, a university design student who saw American Beauty a second time, said she didn’t know what to make of the allegations, preferring to focus on the craft in the 1999 film. “If he’s putting his life back together like he said, it’s for good for him,” she said.