After Anthony Rapp came forward in October 2017 with his story about Kevin Spacey making a sexual advance toward him when Rapp was 14, he tried at first to ignore the stream of abusive comments he received on Twitter and Instagram. But as the Star Trek: Discovery actor explained to host Ashley Ford on Wednesday’s episode of Profile on Facebook Watch, he began to realize not responding was “another side of the whole cycle of staying silent.”
“If you simply are silent to people who are bullying or abusing you or harassing you or whatever it is,” Rapp said, “then you're just allowing them to continue.”
So the actor decided to start amplifying the worst offenders, by either retweeting their remarks or posting screenshots. “If they’re going to try to be this cruel, I’m going to put them on blast,” he said. “They have to contend with their name being out there as somebody who's perpetrating this behavior.”
Another element of Rapp’s reasoning, however, was being transparent about the potential cost of publicly sharing a #MeToo story. “If we’re we’re asking people to be courageous and take a stand, I’m saying you should also know that you might invite in some nonsense,” he said. “That’s part of it.”
On Christmas Eve, there was a different kind of nonsense when Spacey posted a bizarre video in which he appeared to respond to the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him after Rapp’s story first published. Rapp said he has not seen the video and doesn’t have more to say about Spacey beyond what he said in his follow-up interview with BuzzFeed News last October.
But Rapp does see the pushback, from alleged abusers like Spacey to anonymous online detractors, as a natural consequence to trying to make an impact with a problem as widespread and fraught as sexual abuse and misconduct.
“Whenever you’re trying to make any kind of change in the world, the thing you’re trying to change will fight back,” he said. “I think we’re in that moment right now where it’s pushing back a little bit. So I’m continuing to explore ways to stay engaged in a way to keep moving it forward.”
To that end, Rapp said he’s talked recently with Ray Donovan actor Johnathon Schaech about how to help more people, especially men, come forward with their own #MeToo stories. (In January 2018, Schaech told People magazine that Italian director Franco Zeffirelli harassed and sexually molested him while Schaech shot Zeffirelli’s 1993 film Sparrow; Zeffirelli’s son, Pippo, denied the allegations on his father’s behalf.)
“There’s not seemingly as much room for men to come forward and have their experiences known,” Rapp said. When Ford noted that after she wrote about her own experiences with sexual assault, other sexual assault victims reached out to her with their own stories, Rapp said that hasn’t quite been his experience.
“I’m not always finding people want to share the details of their story,” he said. “But I am finding people say ‘me too.’” Rapp said that at signing events and photo ops at conventions, a fan will quietly say just those words to him before moving on. “There is that significant connection, even if it's very, very brief,” he said. “But it feels very real.”
Follow Profile by BuzzFeed News on Facebook for weekly interviews with the biggest names in news and entertainment.