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Sharon Stone and Liam Neeson's support for Kevin Spacey may not erase 'creepy' film persona

Martha Ross, The Mercury News on

Published in Entertainment News

Kevin Spacey became a cause célèbre of stars like Sharon Stone and Liam Neeson this week, who went public with their belief that the embattled, “canceled” Oscar winner was the victim of a #MeToo-era witch hunt and should be allowed to resume his Hollywood career.

But their arguments and pushback against a new U.K. documentary, which contains fresh sexual assault allegations against Spacey, may only go so far in making the actor palatable again to the public. Among Spacey’s challenges, according to PR experts and people in the film industry, is that he built his career on playing “creepy,” “sleazy,” or “sinister” characters onscreen, including his Academy Award-winning role in “American Beauty.”

Stone, though, has a very different take on Spacey’s image and talent. In an interview with The Telegraph this week, the “Basic Instinct” star said: “I can’t wait to see Kevin back at work. He is a genius. He is so elegant and fun, generous to a fault and knows more about our craft than most of us ever will.”

Neeson also expressed dismay about the new Channel 4 documentary, “Spacey Unmasked,” which is streaming on Max. “I was deeply saddened to learn of these accusations against him,” the “Taken” star told The Telegraph.

“Kevin is a good man and a man of character,” Neeson continued. “He’s sensitive, articulate and non-judgmental, with a terrific sense of humor. He is also one of our finest artists in the theater and on camera. Personally speaking, our industry needs him and misses him greatly.”

Among the many powerful men brought down during the #MeToo movement, Spacey’s fall was especially precipitous and has been uniquely persistent. Spacey was indeed once considered one of the most talented actors of his generation, also winning an Oscar for “The Usual Suspects.” He moreover was nominated five times for Emmy awards for “The House of Cards,” Netflix’s first big streaming hit which was built around Spacey’s bankability as a movie star.

 

But Spacey was fired from “House of Cards” in late 2017, after actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey, then aged 26, molested him when he was 14 in the 1980s in his Manhattan apartment. More allegations of assault and misconduct followed. Ridley Scott, suddenly faced with Spacey’s “toxicity,” famously reshot the actor’s scenes in his film “All the Money in the World” with Christopher Plummer, weeks before the film’s release, The Guardian reported. Since then, Spacey has effectively been blacklisted by the film and theater industry.

But when Rapp’s lawsuit went to trial in New York in 2022, a civil jury sided with Spacey, finding that he did not molest the young actor, NPR reported. Spacey was also cleared of all charges in a 2023 criminal trial in London, dealing with sexual assault allegations made by four other men, CNN reported.

Now, “Spacey Unmasked” has revived the controversy surrounding the actor. It features previously unheard allegations about sexual misconduct from 10 men, including a claim that Spacey allegedly groped another “House of Cards” actor on set, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But Spacey and a growing cadre of famous colleagues are pushing back against these new “baseless” allegations, as Spacey said in an online interview with British journalist Dan Wootton.

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