A California judge has ordered Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey to pay MRC, the production company of House of Cards, an almost $31 million arbitration award because of two behind-the-scenes instances of sexual misconduct.
Spacey played the conniving Frank Underwood on the show, which put Netflix on the Hollywood map and launched a streaming empire. But the show came crashing down after a 2017 CNN article appeared alleging assaults by the actor on set. All sources for the article were anonymous, and the most severe allegation from the story was dismissed as “uncredible” by an arbitrator in 2020.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana confirmed the award previously handed down by that same arbitrator. The award consisted of approximately $29.5 million in damages plus $1.5 million in fees and costs.
The argument put forth by MRC was that Spacey’s misconduct forced them to remove him from the show’s current season (it’s sixth) and to trim their original plan of 13 episodes down to eight. Ultimately, the 2020 arbitration ruled in MRC’s favor, concluding that Spacey’s behavior counted as a material breach of his agreements as an executive producer and actor.
Netflix’s House of Cards time machine
The fact that the two instances of alleged misconduct sited by MRC did not come to light until after Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos demanded Spacey’s removal from the cast seemed irrelevant in the ruling. Furthermore, the alleged instances were brought to light after a second internal investigation was conducted.
The initial investigation did not uncover either of these accusations.
Let’s announce tomorrow that there is NO scenario in which Kevin Spacey will appear in any version of a final season of the showTed Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO, Nov 2nd 2017
In California court this year, Spacey’s attorneys attempted to throw out the 2020 arbitration ruling, arguing that Spacey’s conduct amounted to nothing more than “innocent horseplay” and “sexual innuendos.” Such behavior, they contended, did not violate any anti-harassment policy at MRC.
Downfall in 2017
Spacey’s career came to a meteoric halt in 2017 when Buzzfeed published an uncorroborated accusation by actor Anthony Rapp. Rapp alleged that Spacey made sexual advances on him after a house party in 1986 when Rapp was 14 years old, an accusation Spacey strenuously denies.
Two days later, production on House of Cards was suspended. Two days after production ceased, CNN published its anonymous-sourced article about how Spacey had created a “toxic” atmosphere on set by engaging in non-consensual touching and making crude comments.
Timing of U.K. sexual assault charges
In May of this year, Spacey was charged in a London U.K. court with four counts of sexual assault plus one count of sexual activity without consent. The uncommon wording of the charge, more specifically, alleges “causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.” The details of these alleged incidents which reportedly occurred when Spacey was artistic director of the Old Vic Theater are not publicly known at this time.
Our ongoing investigation indicates the investigation into the U.K. allegations concluded in 2019. Since then, there has been no public indication of any new evidence uncovered by the prosecutors or police. The impetus for the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) decision to bring sexual assault charges against Spacey at this late date is unknown.
Kevin Spacey pleads not guilty
After appearing in person in a U.K. court to plead not guilty, Spacey was granted unconditional bail.