Sir Ian McKellen calls Kevin Spacey ‘distasteful’ for hiding sexuality

Sir Ian McKellen has called Kevin Spacey “distasteful” for trying to hide his sexuality and suggested that lying about it got him “into problems”.

Sir Ian appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and addressed the ongoing allegations of sexual misconduct against the House of Cards actor.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Host Kevin Spacey speaks onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Related: Sir Ian McKellen on sexual assault: ‘People must be called out’

He explained that he does believe Spacey could seek redemption but added that Spacey probably wouldn’t have acted the way he did if he’d confronted his sexuality years ago.

“You’re asking me if I believe in redemption. Yes, of course, I believe in redemption. I don’t like to comment on that case because there have been many accusations but they haven’t been gone into or understood.

“The one thing I would say about Mr Spacey is that he was a gay man and he was pretending not to be. I always thought it a bit distasteful that a person could come to our country, where the National Theatre at the time being run by a gay man and the Royal Shakespeare by another and I think the Donmar in London by another gay man that we should have a closeted gay man at the centre of British theatre.”

The presenter then questioned whether Sir Ian approved of Spacey coming out at the same time as acknowledging the accusations.

Sir Ian McKellen at the Oxford Union (Photo: OxfordUnion/Youtube)

Related: Anthony Rapp was ‘trying to protect people’ with Kevin Spacey allegations

Sir Ian responded: “Well, you get into problems don’t you if you lie and pretend.”

The actor, who is set to play King Lear in the Duke Of York theatre later this year, also spoke about his work in schools in partnership with Stonewall and what he sees happening in terms of LGBTQ+ equality in younger age groups.

He said: “I find that nobody is born prejudiced. you learn prejudice and you can unlearn it. I think the future, as it was expressed to me by some sixth form girls the other day, they don’t want to be labelled lesbian, they don’t want to be labelled bisexual, they don’t want to be labelled by anything.

“I am what I am in the words of the popular song. Fluidity is the future and people will not be banned by the finger pointing at them giving them a label.

“They don’t want a label and I think that’s terribly hopeful. The world will change beautifully. People will be more relaxed and accepting, that’s what I pick up from schools.”

A number of allegations of sexual misconduct came out against Spacey after Anthony Rapp alleged that the actor had sexually assaulted him when he was just 14.

When acknowledging the accusation, Spacey came out as a gay man.

In November, 20 people accused Spacey of sexual misconduct whilst he was creative director at The Old Vic theatre in London.

Because of these allegations, House of Cards will continue without Spacey.

Related: Ian McKellen: I’ve never met a gay person who regrets coming out

Following the controversy, Netflix halted production on the show’s sixth and final season and the company has since confirmed that it would film one final season to round out the show, but that Spacey will play no part in the production.

The eight-episode season will still star Robin Wright, who played the villainous Claire Underwood.

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said: “We have made an arrangement to produce six seasons of House of Cards. It will be an eight-episode season. It will start production in early 2018 and it will not involve Kevin Spacey. We were really excited we could get to an agreement… for the conclusion of the show.”

Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey in House of Cards (Netflix)

It is expected that Spacey’s character Frank Underwood, who resigned as President at the end of the fifth series, will be killed off-camera or written out entirely.

Spacey had attempted to come out as gay in response to the allegations of sexual assault – a move that was strongly criticised by LGBT activists.

As well as being booted from his role on House of Cards, All the Money in the World director Ridley Scott made the decision to re-shoot the film without Spacey.

He has been stripped of his Emmy.