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Actor Kevin Spacey's sexual offence trial begins in London

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The trial began today in London for one of Hollywood's best-known actors to face sexual assault charges as part of the #MeToo movement. Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey faces 12 counts involving four men in the U.K. over the course of a dozen years. To talk us through today's events inside and outside the London courtroom is journalist Willem Marx. Welcome.

WILLEM MARX, BYLINE: Thanks so much.

SUMMERS: So tell us, what happened today in court?

MARX: Well, Spacey, who's now age 63 - he arrived early at Southwark Crown Court. That's in Central Southeast London. He was dressed in a suit and a pink tie. He was accompanied by his manager amongst others. He greeted onlookers before entering, confirmed his full name, which is Kevin Spacey Fowler, to the judge once he was inside the courtroom. He didn't say much more than that.

A dozen jurors and two alternates were selected without too much back and forth between the prosecution and defense lawyers. And then the judge spoke to the jury members that had been selected about the importance of avoiding media coverage whenever possible in the coming weeks as the trial continues. Kevin Spacey smiled, and he nodded when the judge acknowledged that some, if not all, of the assembled jurors would probably already know who he was and had perhaps even seen several or many of his films.

SUMMERS: OK, and how long has this legal process taken to get to this point?

MARX: Well, you may remember there have been a number of allegations around his behavior leveled against Spacey on both sides of the Atlantic, really. And indeed, there have been several criminal and civil cases in the U.S., although none have so far gone against him. Here in the U.K., he was first charged by the state prosecutors - they're known as the Crown Prosecution Service - back in May last year. That initially was on five counts involving three different men. Then, in an initial hearing back in July last year, he pled not guilty to those initial counts.

Then the prosecutors lengthened the charge sheet. He appeared again in a London courtroom this January to once more plead not guilty against seven other separate charges over the period from 2001 to 2013, and the fourth alleged victim was then added. Since then, he's been on unconditional bail, having voluntarily travelled from the U.S. to the U.K. on those previous occasions to face those accusations. And this current trial is expected to last at least four weeks with the opening statements scheduled for this Friday.

SUMMERS: And Willem, what have these accusations meant for Kevin Spacey's career?

MARX: Well, these accusations in the U.K. together with a number of different allegations leveled by individuals in the U.S., plus, of course, all the media reporting about them, has meant a man who was once one of the world's most, I guess, bankable movie and television stars has - he's appeared in far fewer productions than you might otherwise expect. You can possibly remember he was entirely written out of that final season of the Netflix hit show "House Of Cards." Another Netflix movie about Gore Vidal was canceled that was starring him, and then Christopher Plummer replaced him in a feature film called "All The Money In The World" about John Paul Getty. His agents, his publicist - they all severed ties with him. And there's clearly a lot riding on the trial for him. If he's found guilty, it will likely lead to a lengthy prison sentence here in Britain. If he's acquitted, though, he recently told the German magazine Die Zeit in an interview that there are many producers and directors lining up to pretty immediately start working with him again on new projects.

SUMMERS: Willem Marx in London. Thank you.

MARX: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Willem Marx
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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