(Reuters) - Actor Kevin Spacey has apologised for an alleged attempt to seduce a 14-year-old boy more than 30 years ago, an encounter the two-time Oscar winner denied recalling but attributed to drunkenness as he also came out as a gay man on Twitter.
But rather than tempering an uproar over the allegation, Spacey’s combination of an apology with a statement going public about his sexual orientation stirred a backlash against the actor as Hollywood found itself embroiled in yet another sex scandal.
Adding fuel to the latest controversy was news on Monday that Netflix will soon end the landmark political drama “House of Cards,” which stars Spacey as a corrupt and closeted bisexual U.S. president.
Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) did not give an explicit reason for deciding to air just one more season of “House of Cards” before pulling the plug on the Emmy-winning, critically acclaimed show, its first original hit series.
Netflix spokeswoman Karen Barragan said the determination was made months ago, long before the allegation surfaced against Spacey, 58, who is also a Tony-winning actor and former creative director of London’s famed Old Vic theatre.
But the internet streaming service and the show’s producers issued a joint statement saying they were “deeply troubled” by the accusation levelled against Spacey by actor Anthony Rapp, 46, a member of CBS’s new “Star Trek: Discovery” series.
According to Rapp, in an interview published late on Sunday by BuzzFeed, Spacey in 1986 made an unwanted sexual advance towards him when he was just 14 at the time.
Rapp said the encounter occurred after a party Spacey hosted at his New York apartment, where he said Spacey, then 26, found him watching TV alone at the end of the night when other guests had left, then carried him to a bed and lay down on top of him.
Rapp said he had the impression that Spacey was drunk, pushed him away and left.
“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp told BuzzFeed. “I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”
Rapp was just starting his career on Broadway in a production of “Precious Sons” at the time and went on to star in the hit musical “Rent.” Spacey was then appearing in a Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”
Rapp told BuzzFeed he remained unnerved by the experience decades later and felt compelled to come forward after dozens of women recently accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and several other Hollywood figures of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Weinstein, who has since been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America, has denied engaging in non-consensual sex with anyone.
Spacey said in a Twitter post on Sunday that he was “beyond horrified” by Rapp’s account, which he said he did not recall.
“But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey tweeted.
Spacey went on to say that Rapp’s story “had encouraged me to address other things in my life.”
“As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, I now choose to live life as a gay man,” wrote Spacey, who had not previously addressed his sexuality publicly.
Spacey immediately came under fire on social media for what many saw as a disingenuous conflation of an apology for sexual misconduct with a public acknowledgement of being gay.
“Coming-out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “This is not a coming-out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances.”
A representative for Spacey did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
An Oscar winner for “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty,” Spacey is best known lately for his role as the ruthless fictional president Frank Underwood in “House of Cards.”
The series became Netflix’s defining show when it launched in 2013, upending traditional television viewership by making all episodes of each season available for internet streaming at once.
Spacey will next be seen on the big screen playing Jean Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s drama “All The Money in the World,” scheduled for release by Sony Pictures in December for possible awards consideration.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Grant McCool and Leslie Adler