Judi Dench Defends Work of Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein: 'You Cannot Deny Somebody a Talent'
In an interview with Britain’s Radio Times, Dench 84, didn’t defend both men nor reject the accusations of sexual assault against them, but did express concern over people dismissing their bodies of work in this #MeToo era.
“What kind of agony is that?” Dench said, according to The Guardian, of Spacey’s removal from the 2017 film All the Money in the World. “Are we going to negate 10 years at the Old Vic and everything that he did [as artistic director] – how wonderful he’s been in all those films?”
She added, “Are we just not going to see all those films that Harvey produced?
“You cannot deny somebody a talent. You might as well never look at a Caravaggio painting. You might as well never have gone to see Noël Coward.”
Caravaggio, the famous Italian painter, was a murderer, while Coward, a British playwright, actor and singer, was accused of predatory behavior.
Spacey, 59, served as the Old Vic’s artistic director from 2004-2015, though the London theater said in November 2017 that the star was facing 20 accusations of “inappropriate behavior” during his tenure.
Dench, meanwhile, has close personal relationships with both Spacey and Weinstein.
The British actress has long credited Weinstein, 67, with launching her Hollywood career, and her Oscar win came from her work in Shakespeare in Love, a film produced by Weinstein’s former studio Miramax.
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She previously issued a statement condemning the producer’s alleged misconduct in October 2017.
“Whilst there is no doubt that Harvey Weinstein has helped and championed my film career for the past 20 years, I was completely unaware of these offences which are, of course, horrifying and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered, and wholehearted support to those who have spoken out,” she said.
Spacey, meanwhile, was a shoulder to lean on on the set of the 2001 movie The Shipping News after the death of Dench’s husband, Michael Williams, she said in September, according to Variety.
Dench offered a similar defense of Spacey at the time, again condemning his removal from Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World following the film’s completion.
“I can’t approve, in any way, of the fact that – whatever he has done – that you then start to cut him out of the films,” she said.
She continued, “Are we to go back throughout history and anyone who has misbehaved in any way, or who has broken the law, or who has committed some kind of offense, are they always going to be cut out? Are we going to extrude them from our history?”
The allegation – which prompted an apology from Spacey and also led him to come out as gay – opened the floodgates for similar claims, including a felony sexual assault charge filed that November that accused Spacey of assaulting the then-18-year-old son of a Boston TV news anchor at a Nantucket bar in July 2016.
The fired House of Cards actor pleaded not guilty to the charge of indecent assault and battery in January, one month after he released a bizarre video that appeared to feature him in character as Frank Underwood.
“Some believed everything and have just been waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all,” Spacey said in the video. “They’re just dying to have me declare that everything said is true and that I got what I deserved.”
“Wouldn’t that be easy if it was all so simple?” he continued. “Only you and I both know it’s never that simple, not in politics and not in life. … If I didn’t pay the price for the things we both know I did do, I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn’t do.”
Weinstein, meanwhile, has been accused of sexual harassment, assault and rape by more than 100 women in light of investigations published by The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017.
The disgraced producer was indicted last year on charges of rape in the first and third degree, as well as criminal sexual act in the first degree. He pleaded not guilty in June 2018, and his trial is set for September 9.
Weinstein has previously denied all allegations of sexual misconduct and assault against him, claiming the relationships were consensual.