Ian McKellen has criticized Kevin Spacey for failing to reveal his sexuality as he feels the British theatre industry has long been an accepting place for gay men.
Spacey, 58, was artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre from 2004 to 2015, but only revealed he was gay last October (17) after Star Trek actor Anthony Rapp accused him of making inappropriate advances towards him when he was just 14.
McKellen, 78, who came out as gay in 1988, criticized the star for living a lie for so many years, as he felt it was “distasteful” when other leading figures in British theatre lived openly as gay men.
“He was a gay man and he was pretending not to be,” the Lord of the Rings star told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “And I always thought it a bit distasteful that such a person would come to our country, where the National Theatre was at the time being run by gay men, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Donmar (theatre) in London by another gay man, that we should have a closeted gay man at the centre of British theatre, seemed to me a bit unseasonable.”
Britain’s National Theatre was run by the openly gay Nicholas Hytner from 2003 to 2015, while current Royal Shakespeare Company chief Gregory Doran is married to the actor Antony Sher.
An investigation into Spacey’s conduct during his time at the Old Vic instigated by theatre bosses after Rapp went public with his claims resulted in 20 complaints against the actor. The Usual Suspects star is also facing three U.K. police probes into allegations of sexual assault.
Although he wouldn’t comment on the specific accusations leveled at the star, McKellen has criticized him for linking his announcement that he was gay to his response to Rapp’s claims.
Asked what he thought of Spacey’s conduct, he added, “You get into problems if you lie, don’t you? If you pretend.”