A Hollywood Hurricane

Today we learned that this trailer for Ridley Scott’s upcoming kidnapping drama All the Money in the World, which opens next month, is already a thing of the past. In the trailer we see Kevin Spacey as the billionaire J. Paul Getty, but after the revelations of the past few weeks about Spacey the unprecedented decision has been made to reshoot his scenes, now with Christopher Plummer in the part (who ironically was the first choice to play Getty, until the studio wanted a bigger name). This is doable; Spacey’s scenes took eight days to shoot, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and most of them feature only the actor, but co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams will be coming in for the reshoots and Scott will have to figure out how to do some scenes that rely on visual effects.

It won’t be cheap, but it has to be done. The climate in Hollywood has drastically changed since movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was finally exposed one month ago as a sexual predator. More than 80 women have come forward to accuse him of rape and abuse, criminal investigations have begun and the case has had a massive global effect. Under the hashtag #metoo, women have testified about similar experiences, they have exposed sexual predators, and a general conversation has begun about how men take advantage of their positions of power. Within the media and Hollywood, a great number of famous men have been accused of inappropriate behavior, rape and abuse. Conservatives have unconvincingly tried to make this only about Hollywood (and the Clintons of course), which is rich considering the problems that Fox News has had the past year. In the real world this scandal is refreshing. Finally, the time has come to talk openly about this, and hopefully to see some change in the filmmaking community. Will other businesses follow? Remains to be seen.

The avalanche of accusations and consequences makes it hard to keep up, and this month has certainly been an emotional experience. It does matter who is accused. Steven Seagal has always had a bad reputation, which hasn’t improved after he became a buddy of Putin’s. He’s been accused of sexual harassment and abuse in the past, and several actors have now come forward with fresh accusations, including Julianne Margulies (clip above). Seagal fell from grace years ago, which is why this isn’t bigger news. The same conclusion can be reached about Charlie Sheen, who has now been accused of raping Corey Haim when he was 13. We have no idea if this is true.

It was a greater shock to hear a woman accuse Dustin Hoffman of behaving inappropriately during the shoot of the TV movie Death of a Salesman (1985). He’s an icon, and beloved all over the world; this is not what we expect or want to hear about him, and yet it seems to have happened. And then there’s Kevin Spacey, the biggest prize after Weinstein, a celebrated stage, film and TV actor who has apparently been known throughout Hollywood for his indecent behavior toward younger men and boys. The news about how Spacey has groped and forced himself on a great number of people (including a 14-year-old) over the decades was shocking to me, but above all sad. When Harry Dreyfuss, son of Richard Dreyfuss, revealed on Twitter how Spacey had touched him inappropriately him when he was 18 (even when Richard was in the same room!), it made my blood boil. And apparently Hollywood had had enough. Netflix severed all ties with the star, including firing him from House of Cards.  

Will Kevin Spacey’s career survive? Not the way it looks now. We will likely not see him star in a movie or TV show for years until the passage of time makes it tolerable for audiences to look at him again. The same thing happened to Mel Gibson’s career after his anti-Semitic rant a decade ago, and that wasn’t as serious an event as this; it took him many years to get his career back, and it’s still fragile (with the exception of his Hacksaw Ridge success last year); earlier reports of domestic abuse keep popping up. 

Hollywood has been shaken to the core, to an even greater extent than the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2016 that changed Academy rules. So, what comes next? There will be more revelations and the discussion of how women and young men and children are treated in Hollywood will continue. There is a risk of fatigue and false accusations, but each case must be dealt with individually.

Some people are grappling with their anger and disgust at stars like Spacey. As a fan of movies and a critic, there is only one answer for me. It’s not necessarily shared by other fans or colleagues, but I can’t imagine any other position. I will still take the work of men like Spacey for what it is – his great performances are still great. I can’t do it any other way because I don’t want to and because I have no idea where to draw the line. I am just not going to purge my website of reviews of movies made by Spacey, or Woody Allen, or Mel Gibson, or Roman Polanski, or Alfred Hitchcock, or Leni Riefenstahl, or… you get where I’m going. Not that anyone’s demanding that. But when Bustle asked a number of critics how they feel about watching Harvey Weinstein-produced films now, the discussion made me cringe. Put Harvey in prison by all means, but I have no qualms about watching any of the masterful films he helped produce over the years, thank you very much. 

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