Sir Ian McKellen has said he “deeply regrets” his recent comments on what could have lead Kevin Spacey and director Bryan Singer to have allegedly abused others.
On 1 March, McKellen appeared as a guest on a live recording of the #QueerAF podcast during National Student Pride 2019.
There, he was asked about the sexual assault allegations against both men – having worked with Singer and Spacey in the past – and he suggested that they may have been driven to commit offences due to not being able to be open about their sexualities in the film industry.
“Well, frankly, I’m waiting for someone to accuse me of something,” he joked to the crowd. “And me wondering whether they’re not telling the truth, and me having forgotten . . .
“But with the couple of names you mentioned, of people I’ve worked with, most of them were in the closet—hence all their problems as people, and their relationship with other people. If they had been able to be open about themselves and their desires, they wouldn’t have started abusing people in the way they’re being accused.”
Ian McKellen ‘deeply regrets’ controversial ‘closet’ comments
His controversial theory was met with backlash online, with Twitter users describing his assumption as “ignorant” and “dangerous.” But now, McKellen has issued a statement, apologising for the statements he made.
“I suggested that if closeted people were instead open about their sexuality they wouldn’t abuse others. That, of course, is wrong,” he wrote in a Twitter post on 2 March. “My intention was to encourage the LGBT audience I was addressing, to be proud and open about their sexuality.
“In doing so, my point was clumsily expressed. I would never, ever trivialise or condone abuse of any kind. I deeply regret my careless remarks and apologise unreservedly for any distress I caused.”
McKellen went on to say that “when it comes to abuse by people in positions of power, the correct response is clear.” He urged that after claims are made, “the accused [be] given an opportunity to clear their names.” However, “if the actions are proven credible, the abuser’s access to power should be removed.”
Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer face sexual assault allegations
McKellen worked with Spacey when the latter acted as artistic director for London’s The Old Vic Theatre. He has worked with Singer – director of the Oscar-nominated biopic Bohemian Rhapsody – several times, most notably as part of the X-Men franchise.
Spacey was first accused of abusing Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp when he was 14-years-old back in 2017. In response, he chose to come out as gay publicly. Since then, several other alleged victims have come forward.
According to a damning investigative report by The Atlantic, bisexual filmmaker Singer has sexually assaulted “numerous underage boys.” He denies all allegations.