Kevin Spacey’s reputation may be a collapsed house of cards at this point, but one person not contributing to the demolition is former costar Robin Wright.
The once and future Claire Underwood broke her silence about her alleged sexual predator TV husband in an interview with Today on Monday. Given the chance to unambiguously denounce Kevin Spacey’s behavior, however, Wright opted out. Instead, she spoke about how “surprised” and “saddened” the news about Spacey made her and the whole House of Cards crew—as though he’d passed away unexpectedly, rather than been unmasked as a serial abuser hiding in plain sight. For those Spacey preyed on, and for those trying to eliminate all Spacey types from public life, it might have been preferable had Wright said nothing at all.
“Kevin and I knew each other between ‘action’ and ‘cut,’ and in between setups where we would giggle,” Wright noted during the Today interview, with Claire Underwood-like steely diplomacy. “I didn’t know the man. I knew the incredible craftsman that he is.”
Here’s who else Kevin Spacey is, in addition to being the incredible craftsman who starred in K-PAX. After Anthony Rapp came forward last October to reveal that a then-26-year-old Spacey had aggressively come on to the actor, who was just 14 at the time, Spacey simultaneously apologized and came out as gay. This Twitterized one-two punch seemed to conflate a thwarted pedophilic conquest with homosexuality in general, in order to generate bravery points. It was a desperate attempt, even grosser than when Roseanne Barr recently tried to blame her racist remarks on her Ambient use–and it was just as unsuccessful. Several celebrities, including Zachary Quinto, Evan Rachel Wood, and Billy Eichner, publicly called Spacey to account over his manipulative efforts. It’s understandable that Robin Wright might not have wanted to join their ranks too hastily–after all, her livelihood was potentially tied to a still-unfolding story at the time–but that story turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg.
A flood of further charges against Spacey emerged almost overnight, as though a long-clogged dam had finally burst. Although many other powerful men had been exposed as predators following Harvey Weinstein’s downfall earlier that month, Spacey quickly vaulted near the top of the list in terms of breadth. At least 15 men came forward by mid-November to tell stories similar to Rapp’s, and even more have surfaced since–including three new accusers just last week.
Wright may have not initially wanted to jump to conclusions, but at this point–eight months later, amid a coordinated PR push for the show whose continued existence was contingent on Spacey being eradicated altogether–weighing in would be more like a well-considered turtle-crawl to conclusions. And even that appears to be too strong a position for Wright to take.
It wasn’t just that Spacey had made unwanted sexual advances on underage actors in the distant past; he reportedly made House of Cards a toxic environment as well. At least eight people who worked on the show reported instances of being harassed by Spacey. How are these people supposed to continue working with Wright in harmony, knowing that the Spacey revelations only surprised and saddened her; rather than making her righteously pissed off? Even if she privately expressed her true feelings to them, who does it serve being so neutral in public?
When asked if Netflix did the right thing by firing Spacey, Wright said she “didn’t know how to comment on that… At that time, the shock was so intense all over the nation for many reasons, many stories, many people. I think that everybody felt that it was respectful to back off.”
Yes, it was respectful. It also may prove legally necessary, if the House of Cards production assistant who says he found Spacey’s hand unwelcomely down his pants decides to sue. But framing the answer around what was known at the time the news broke is a dodge, protecting Wright from acknowledging what is known now. Why is it so difficult to say, “Yes, it’s a good thing Netflix fired my former co-star, alleged prolific sexual predator, Kevin Spacey, and if the allegations prove true, I hope he goes to jail.” Instead, her words leave open the door for her to potentially abet Spacey’s eventual reputation rehabilitation.
Perhaps the best indicator that Netflix did make the right move, though, is the fact that Wright’s interview was with Today’s Samantha Guthrie–and not her predecessor, Matt Lauer.