Ian McKellen is generating controversy after saying in an interview that Kevin Spacey and director Bryan Singer allegedly sexually abused boys because they were "in the closet."
McKellen, who has worked with the two men, made the comments during a live recording of the #QueerAF podcast during National Student Pride 2019. He started by pointing out that the director and actor weren't openly gay at the time the alleged abuse occurred.
"Most of them were in the closet. Hence, all their problems as people and their relationship with other people," he said. "If they had been able to be open about themselves and their desires, they wouldn’t have started abusing people in the way they’ve been accused."
(Singer has been openly gay throughout his career in Hollywood.)
In January, Spacey pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket bar in 2016. Two years earlier in October, Star Trek actor Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed News Spacey had made an unwanted sexual advance toward him when he was 14. Several other men have also accused Spacey of sexual assault, after which Netflix fired the actor from the hit show House of Cards.
McKellen also worked with Spacey at the Old Vic theater in London, where multiple accounts of inappropriate sexual behavior allegedly occurred during Spacey’s long-running tenure as artistic director.
Singer recently faced new allegations published in the Atlantic that he sexually abused and assaulted teenage boys, including a 13-year-old on the set of his 1998 film Apt Pupil, which also starred McKellen.
McKellen, who costarred in Singer's X-Men movies, also said in the podcast interview that it's "debatable" whether the two men should continue to work in Hollywood despite the damning allegations.
"I think that's rather up to the public," he said. "Do you want to see someone who's been accused of something that you don't approve of? Do you ever want to see them again? If the answer is no, you won't buy a ticket, you won't turn on the television. But there may be others for whom that's not a consideration."
As for his own place in the #MeToo era of reckoning, McKellen said he was "waiting for someone to accuse me of something."
As the crowd laughed, the 79-year-old actor added: "And me wondering if they're not telling the truth and me having forgotten."
Representatives for McKellen, Spacey, and Singer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.