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Italy’s National Museum of Cinema in Turin on Monday paid tribute to Oscar-winning U.S. actor Kevin Spacey, presenting the American Beauty and House of Cards star with its highest honor, the Stella della Mole Award for lifetime achievement. Enzo Ghigo, president of the National Museum, and Vittorio Sgarbi, undersecretary to the Italian Ministry of Culture, presented Spacey with the prize.
“Tonight we’re witnessing Kevin Spacey’s comeback,” said Sgarbi, adding. “The one living through cinema is an immortal man, and it is precisely him that we are awarding this prize to tonight.”
Spacey thanked the Turin Museum of Cinema for having “the courage, the balls, to invite me.” The public event marked Spacey’s first since facing sexual assault charges.
Spacey also took part in a masterclass at the Temple Hall of the Mole Antonelliana in Turin, where he spoke with museum director Domenico De Gaetano about his life and career.
“Tonight I consider myself extremely lucky,” Spacey said. “I’ve been doing this job for over 40 years, and I’ve only ever received kindness and support from my fans and coworkers. And I am honored to be part of this process.”
After the masterclass, Spacey met his fans —a youthful and enthusiastic crowd— to introduce a special screening of Sam Mendes’ American Beauty, the film that won him a best actor Oscar in 2000.
In the wide-ranging discussion, Spacey talked about the different relationships he’s had with directors throughout his career.
Missing from the talk, and the entire evening, was any discussion or mention of the criminal allegations leveled against Spacey in the U.K., where the actor has pled not guilty to numerous charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.
In late October, a jury found Spacey not liable in a separate sexual misconduct trial involving actor Anthony Rapp. Spacey remains on unconditional bail until his trial in the U.K. later this year, allowing him to move freely in and out of the country.
The numerous accusations against Spacey, made in the wake of the #MeToo movement, have made the actor persona non grata in Hollywood. He was fired from Netflix series House of Cards and was forced to pay a $31 million arbitration settlement to series producer MRC for sexual misconduct involving young crewmembers on the show.
The award-winning actor, however, did reference what he called the “mistakes” he has made in his career and the “setbacks” he has faced.
Spacey, however, has found work in Europe. He appeared in Franco Nero’s The Man Who Drew God, which premiered at the Torino Film Festival in December, and plays the lead role as Gore Vidal in Michael Hoffman’s upcoming, Italian-set, Gore.
In Turin, the award-winning actor Spacey only made oblique references to his legal troubles, singling out his loyal manager, Evan Lowenstein, for praise.
“There is, however, someone in particular that I must thank tonight,” he said. “When you have a friend like Evan Lowenstein, life can be something pretty special. I respect him professionally as well as personally, because of our friendship. It’s thanks to him that I realized I had to take all the setbacks and mistakes I made and get back on my feet, move on. It’s not just what he does for me: it’s what he does for his wife, his kids, his friends. I want to shift everyone’s attention on you, tonight, for everything you do. Beautiful things are twice as beautiful, like tonight, because I can share them with you. I’m truly lucky to have you as my brother — you are the brother I never had.”
In another personal moment, Spacey recalled working with his idol, the actor Jack Lemmon.
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