Ian McKellen has slammed Kevin Spacey for only announcing he was gay when confronted with an allegation of sexual misconduct.
The Baby Driver star, 58, came out in an apology to the actor Anthony Rapp posted on Twitter, after he alleged Spacey had made sexual advances on him when he was just 14 years old.
McKellen, who famously came out as gay in 1988 and worked with the shamed star at London’s Old Vic theatre, used an address at the Oxford Union in England to criticize Spacey for allowing people to link his sexuality to underage sex allegations.
“I’ve worked for Kevin Spacey when he was at the Old Vic, I was in pantomime there,” the 78-year-old said. “I think it’s a matter of celebration when anybody comes out because their life is going to be better, but the circumstances in which he chose to do it are reprehensible because it linked alleged underage sex with a declaration of sexuality and that’s murky and undesirable.”
Since Rapp’s revelations, more men have come forward with allegations against Spacey, and Old Vic bosses received 20 complaints over his conduct during his decade as the theatre’s artistic director. The disgraced actor is also believed to be being investigated by British police.
McKellen’s former partner, the director Sean Mathias has also said he was once coerced into a sex act by a powerful film industry figure.
During his Oxford Union talk, The Lord of the Rings star also discussed the sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked Hollywood since multiple actresses accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.
McKellen said he hoped the new focus on the issue would “eradicate” bad behavior and recalled an episode from his own career showing the difficulties women face in the entertainment industry.
“When I was starting acting in the early 1960s, the director of the theatre I was working at showed me some photographs he got from women who were wanting jobs,” he revealed. “Some of them had at the bottom of their photograph ‘DRR’ – directors’ rights respected. In other words, if you give me a job, you can have sex with me.”
He went on to say that “nothing but good” could come from people speaking out about the issue.