Kevin Spacey doesn’t have a lot of defenders these days, ever since multiple men accused the actor of sexual harassment. The fallout began with actor Anthony Rapp’s detailed account to BuzzFeed News of a then 26-year-old Spacey’s sexual advances toward him when he was only 14 years old.
But he’s found one in famed author Gay Talese, 85, who recently offered a bizarre, rabid defense of the actor. In the span of one interview, Talese mourned Spacey’s career, claimed his accusers should “suck it up” and compared the disgraced actor to the Dalai Lama.
It happened Monday night at the New York Public Library’s annual Library Lions Gala. A reporter from Vanity Fair asked Talese who he would like to write about if he were to profile someone today.
“I would like to talk to Kevin Spacey,” Talese responded.
That seemed natural enough. Spacey’s been dominating headlines for the better part of two weeks as allegations flooded in. London police began investigating him, production of his Netflix show “House of Cards” was suspended and he was cut from CBS’s upcoming “Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special.”
But then, as Vanity Fair reported, Talese grew “agitated” and offered his reasoning for wanting to speak with Spacey — he feels sorry for the actor.
“I would like to ask [Spacey] how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because of 10 minutes of indiscretion 10 years or more ago,” Talese said, adding, “I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career. So, O.K., it happened 10 years ago. . . . Jesus, suck it up once in a while!”
Then Talese compared the two-time Oscar-winning actor, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old, with the Dalai Lama.
“You know something, all of us in this room at one time or another did something we’re ashamed of. The Dalai Lama has done something he’s ashamed of,” he told Vanity Fair. “The Dalai Lama should confess . . . put that in your magazine!”
The Dalai Lama did not respond. But many Twitter users expressed a mixture of outrage and confusion at Talese’s comments. No one else has loudly defended Spacey.
Esquire editor Tyler Coates played off Talese’s own quote, writing, “I’d like to ask Gay Talese how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because he revealed himself to be a s‑‑‑ty person.”
“Petition To Force Gay Talese To Change His Name To Straightoldguy Talese,” tweeted NPR book and movie reviewer Glen Weldon.
“I could steal Talese’s car in less than 10 minutes. I don’t think he’d shrug it off,” tweeted one user.
“Oh dear, twitter’s gonna make Gay Talese wish he was trending because he died,” wrote one user.
Talese’s public image has had a pretty rough run as of late. Last April, he spoke at on a panel at a Boston University journalism conference, and an audience member asked what nonfiction writers inspired him. He responded, “I didn’t know any women writers that I loved.”
Later, at the same conference, he approached New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones.
“I was talking with another woman journalist,” Hannah-Jones recalled to Rewire. “We were trying to figure out what session we were going to go to next, and that’s when he asked me if I was going to get my nails done.”
Then, two months later, Talese disavowed his latest nonfiction book “The Voyeur’s Motel” after The Washington Post questioned its factual accuracy. The book followed the story of Gerald Foos, who supposedly spied on guests at his Colorado motel from the 1960s to the 1990s, keeping journals of their sexual behavior.
More from Morning Mix: