TURIN, Italy (AP) — In his first appearance since #MeToo-era #MeToo allegations derailed his career, actor Kevin Spacey used a colorful Italian term to thank the National Film Museum in the northern city of Turin Monday for having the courage to invite him.
Spacey received a lifetime achievement award from the museum, debated lead roles during a master class, and then performed the 1999 film “American Beauty,” for which he won his second acting Oscar, in front of a packed audience.
“I am truly blessed, grateful, and humbled.” Spacey said, using the Italian word for a man’s body part synonymous with courage, to cheers from the main row audience.
“By presenting this award, they are staunchly championing artistic achievement and for that they should be commended,” 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 described as Spacey’s first speaking engagements in five years. After multiple allegations of sexual assault 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 will not be easily broken by uninhibited, ever-changing relationships.”
He choked up when he thanked his manager, Evan Lowenstein, for his support, calling him “the brother I never had.”
Spacey said he was also “very 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 on hand when the movie premieres later this week in Rome.
After the master class, fans lined up to take selfies and sign DVDs.
I really missed him, and I think he had a great role in cinema. “He made Netflix what it is today,” Chiara Ottolini said, referring to the massive success of “House of Cards.” “I am very happy to see him back, because we have to separate the man from the artist.”
Merry Beachy traveled from Milan to see Spacey, whom she considers one of the best actors ever. She said she would have traveled further.
She said, “When the scandal happened, I went into mourning because I knew very well that they would immediately ostracize him.”
Spacey is set to stand trial in London in June on dozens of charges alleging he sexually assaulted 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 they were both relatively unknown actors on Broadway in 1986 and Rapp was 14 years old. Jurors debated for just over an hour before deciding that Raab, now 50, had not substantiated his allegations.
Spacey earlier 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 ordering Spacey to pay $30.9 million to the “House of Cards” makers for violating his contract by sexually harassing crew members.
Elena Courteney, a design student at the university who was watching “American Beauty” a second time, said she didn’t know what to do about the allegations, and preferred to focus on the craftsmanship of the 1999 film.
She said, “If he’s rearranging his life like he said, good for him.”