TURIN, Italy (AP) — Actor Kevin Spacey made his first speaking appearance since #MeToo-era allegations derailed his career. He used a colorful Italian term 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 in a masterclass, and then introduced the 1999 film “American Beauty,” for which he won his second acting Oscar, to a sold-out audience.
“I am truly blessed and thankful and humbled. And my heart is very full to the National Museum of Cinema tonight because they’ve had the “le palle” to invite me tonight,” said Spacey, using the Italian word for a male body part synonymous with courage, to cheers from the audience of the master class. .
“By presenting this award, they are vigorously defending artistic achievement and for that they should be applauded,” said Spacey.
Previous winners 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 speaking engagements in five years. After multiple sexual assault allegations surfaced, the actor lost his starring role in the Netflix series ‘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 class. But while noting the loyalty of many fans, he said, “The bond I share with them won’t be easily broken by rampant, ever-shifting mobocratic ties.”
He choked as he thanked his manager Evan Lowenstein for his support, calling him “the brother I never had.”
Spacey also said he was “extremely grateful” to Italian director Frank Nero, who hired him for a role in “The Man Who Drew God,” which was filmed in Turin. Spacey will be present when the film is shown in Rome later this week.
After the masterclass, 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,” says Chiara Ottolini, referring to the huge success of “House of Cards.” “I’m so happy to see him come back because we need to separate the man and the artist.”
Mery Bicci came from Milan to see Spacey, whom she considers one of the best actors ever. She said she would have traveled even further.
“When the scandal happened, I went into mourning because I knew very well that they would immediately ban him,” she said.
Spacey is scheduled to go on trial in London in June on a dozen charges of assault against four men between 2001 and 2013, including when he was artistic director of the city’s Old Vic theatre. He has pleaded not guilty.
In October, a federal jury in a New York civil case found that Spacey, 63, did not sexually assault actor Anthony Rapp when both were relatively unknown Broadway actors in 1986 and Rapp was 14 years old. The jurors deliberated for just over an hour before deciding that Rapp, now 50, had failed to prove his allegations.
Spacey previously faced allegations in Massachusetts that he groped a man at a bar. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.
A Los Angeles judge in August approved an arbitrator’s decision to 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 design student at the university who saw “American Beauty” for the second time, said she didn’t know what to make of the allegations and preferred to focus on the craftsmanship in the 1999 film.
“If he gets his life back on track, like he said, good for him,” she said.