His disgrace was so deep, and the sordid catalogue of allegations against him so extensive, that surely few would believe actor Kevin Spacey would even attempt a return to the spotlight.
And yet, after three years of lying low in London, he is set to re-emerge.
Spacey, now 61, is planning to star in an Italian-language film with Vanessa Redgrave, directed by her husband, Franco Nero.
In the wake of the scandal, Spacey was sacked from House Of Cards and replaced in the film All The Money In The World
He is to play a detective who is investigating claims of paedophilia.
These are levelled against a blind artist, to be played by Nero himself. The plot shows the claims to be baseless.
Filming is about to start in Turin. Nero, 79, said: ‘It’s a true story — the story of a man who, though blind, creates sculptures of people’s faces.
‘Among the actors, I made contact with Kevin Spacey. We’re waiting for the end of the pandemic to pick up from where our preparatory work was interrupted.’
In 2017 Spacey was accused of groping dozens of young men, and the Crown Prosecution Service has yet to decide whether to press ahead with charges.
But he has long been itching to get back to his once-stellar acting career.
There is, it seems, no sense of shame —although it can be revealed that there is a considerable amount of self-pity over how Spacey’s fortunes have panned out.
As one long-standing friend said: ‘Kevin’s position has been the same since day one — which is that he never did anything criminal, although some of his behaviour may have been regrettable.
‘He believes that he was the subject of a witch-hunt. He has felt sorry for himself.’
Certainly, he has lost a lot. After the actor’s fall from grace in 2017, amid multiple accusations of sexual assault on both sides of the Atlantic, Spacey chose to sell his £10 million LA mansion and quit Hollywood. Now rather fuller of face and figure, he has sailed mostly under the radar in the UK.
He is often in the company of his manager, Evan Lowenstein, 47, a handsome, divorced father of four who used to be in a boyband with his identical twin.
‘Evan has moved to London,’ I am told. The pair were together on a 2019 European jaunt, which took in Portugal and Serbia.
Lowenstein’s former wife, Kassini, is unamused by his closeness to Spacey and in a petition filed in 2019 requested a court ruling that Spacey should not be allowed to ‘interact’ with the couple’s children.
Confidantes confirm that Spacey is a resident at a spectacular Thames-side penthouse apartment — he’s been living there since the summer of 2019.
He is a regular at Laurent, the grill bar in the old Cafe Royal on Piccadilly. He’s also been seen at one of the pavement tables at Chelsea’s Bluebird Cafe.
The saga began when actor Anthony Rapp, pictured, claimed Spacey had made a sexual advance towards him after a party at Spacey’s apartment when Rapp was just 14 years old.
Actor Kevin Spacey (R) is escorted by a court officer as he appears at the Nantucket District Court, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in January 2019
Prior to lockdown last March, British actor Nigel Havers also saw him on one of the leather sofas at the private members Garrick Club, quietly reading a copy of The Daily Telegraph. Havers recounts that he asked Spacey ‘Are you over here to work?’ to which Spacey replied: ‘Chance would be a fine thing.’
They had lunch together and Spacey told him he was going through a ‘period of reflection’.
His demeanour has been generally cheery, even though police have only just concluded investigations into six accusations of assault alleged to have taken place between 1996 and 2008.
They relate chiefly to the period when Spacey was living in London and became artistic director of The Old Vic theatre.
He was interviewed about the allegations in May 2019. Five weeks ago, the police sent a file to the CPS, which has to decide whether or not to prosecute.
As for allegations made against Spacey in the U.S., two of his accusers have died since making their complaints.
Another accuser has dropped a civil suit against him after being told that he cannot proceed anonymously.
What remains is a battle over money with Media Rights Capital, the company that makes House Of Cards, which says Spacey owes up to $40 million in lost earnings after it was unable to continue making the Netflix series.
An arbitrator will rule towards the end of this summer.
However, after 43 months of aggressively contesting a number of legal challenges, it looks as though Spacey will remain unconvicted and at liberty.
The saga began when actor Anthony Rapp claimed Spacey had made a sexual advance towards him after a party at Spacey’s apartment when Rapp was just 14 years old.
In a statement, Spacey apologised ‘for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour’, but said he had no memory of that night. He added that he now chooses ‘to live as a gay man’.
Within days, a stream of men had come forward to say they, too, had been harassed by Spacey — propositioned, groped and, in some cases, ‘paid off’ with gifts from the star.
Australian actor Guy Pearce described Spacey as ‘handsy’. Harry Dreyfuss, the son of actor Richard, said Spacey had groped him, which he denied. In an interview shortly before his death in in 2019, photographer Peter Lindbergh said that Spacey had pursued his son.
‘He was after one of my sons who was 15. At one point I said: “Kevin! **** off! This is my son!” ’
It has been reported that one U.S. spa chain, Burke Williams, banned Spacey from booking massage treatments after a number of complaints were made against him.
The Old Vic, which employed Spacey as its artistic director between 2004 and 2015, received 20 individual allegations of inappropriate behaviour from staff, 14 of which were serious enough for the theatre to advise his accusers to go to the police. Other complaints were made to the LA Sheriff’s Department.
In the wake of the scandal, Spacey was sacked from House Of Cards and replaced in the film All The Money In The World.
His publicist, Staci Wolfe, quit working for him, as did his agents at CAA. Only his manager Lowenstein, appointed in 2016, remained.
Under fire, Spacey needed powerful allies, and he found one in lawyer Alan Jackson, who was hired to fight various legal actions in the U.S.
Jackson is a former district attorney who famously successfully prosecuted the late music producer Phil Spector for murder. Jackson is now a sought-after criminal defence attorney.
One case, relating to alleged groping in a bar in Nantucket, went to court but was dropped after it emerged information on the phone of Spacey’s accuser had been deleted before the handset was handed to police. Another set of allegations was made by a massage therapist, but he died of an illness in 2019 and so that lawsuit could not proceed. The therapist said that in October 2016 Spacey grabbed his hand and forced him to touch his genitals.
Lawyer Genie Harrison, who represented the man, said Spacey’s legal team made ‘intimidating’ requests to unmask his identity during earlier legal skirmishes.
A further case involved Scandinavian writer Ari Behn, who accused Spacey of groping him after a Nobel Peace Prize concert (Behn was the son-in-law of the King of Norway). He killed himself in 2019.
Around this time, Spacey dropped from view. He broke cover to attend court in 2019, and was seen again in a bizarre YouTube video posted on Christmas Eve 2019.
In the video, he rebutted the accusations against him ‘in character’ as U.S. president Frank Underwood from House Of Cards. ‘My confidence grows each day that soon enough you will know the full truth,’ he growled.
I’m told the video was Evan Lowenstein’s idea.
In April last year, Spacey spoke at a virtual event hosted by a German podcast and spoke of his pain over being ‘cancelled’, which he compared with the experience of the coronavirus epidemic.
‘My job, many of my relationships, my standing in my industry, were all gone in just a matter of hours,’ he said.
He reappeared in a Christmas Eve 2020 YouTube video, apparently shot in Florida.
In it, he was pictured strolling through a park and offering advice to anyone struggling with mental health issues.
‘If your back’s up against the wall, or if you feel that there is no path for you, whatever your situation, I promise you there is a path,’ he said. Meanwhile, focus began to turn to his association with the notorious paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
It emerged that in 2002, Spacey, a double Oscar-winner, sat on a throne at Buckingham Palace next to Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently in jail awaiting charges of recruiting under-age girls for sex with her former lover Epstein.
Spacey was present because of his closeness to Ghislaine’s friend, Prince Andrew, who arranged the visit to the throne room, and to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who was on a trip to London.
After the photo opportunity, Prince Andrew dined with Clinton and Spacey at Cecconi’s in Mayfair. The three men ate truffled pasta, and the bill — which Clinton paid — came to more than £500.
Clinton and Spacey were also spotted at the Groucho Club, hanging out with Irish rock star Bono, lead singer of U2.
Prince Andrew was once again with Spacey when the actor held a fundraiser for the Old Vic in 2003.
At this event, the singer Courtney Love stripped to her underwear and sang a duet with Elton John. Chelsea Clinton was among the invited throng. A report from the night suggests: ‘The Prince really enjoyed himself.’
Nothing untoward seems to have happened. There were no complaints that we know of, against anyone. This was, of course, years before Prince Andrew’s own spectacular fall from grace.
Many years later, Virginia Roberts (now Giuffre) would allege that in 2001, she had been forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17, while in London with Epstein and Maxwell. The Prince has denied any wrongdoing and has resisted calls from U.S. prosecutors to help with the inquiry.
The movie will also star Vanessa Redgrave (pictured), and be directed by her husband, the prestigious Italian filmmaker, Franco Nero
As for Spacey, today, there are only two legal fights outstanding. There is a civil lawsuit filed in New York by anonymous accuser ‘CD’ and actor Anthony Rapp. Drama student CD claims Spacey attempted to have sex with him against his will. Earlier this month, a judge ruled he could no longer remain anonymous and the indications are that the suit will be dropped by CD.
However, Rapp’s case may continue. In court papers, he says that in 1986, Spacey ‘intentionally and voluntarily and without plaintiff’s consent engaged in an unwanted sexual advance with a 14-year-old and grabbed . . . Rapp’s buttocks, lifted him onto a bed and laid on plaintiff’s body’.
Lawyers are asking for CD to be removed from the existing lawsuit with Rapp, and for the case to be paused while they appeal the ruling to name him.
The other legal issue is with MRC, the maker of House Of Cards.
It argues that the value of the show was diminished because Spacey is viewed by audiences as a predator.
They were forced to scrap what already had been shot of the final season of the hit series in order to eliminate Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, and want financial compensation.
Spacey’s legal team says that, in fact, the company owes him money, by way of unpaid fees.
The arbitration is private, but reports have emerged suggesting that MRC signed off on a settlement with a production assistant who claimed Spacey had sexually harassed him. Spacey says that this shows MRC were aware of his alleged behaviour.
The incident apparently happened in 2012 — during the first season of the show — after Spacey injured his hand while holding a burning flag during a promotional shoot. He is said to have groped the male assistant while on the way to hospital.
With so many accusations — and a total absence of public support from nearly everyone in the entertainment business — does anyone believe that there is an appetite for Spacey’s return?
Anyone, that is, except the actor himself?