Kevin Spacey has praised an Italian museum for having “the guts” to recognize him with a prestigious award, despite controversy over the sex crime allegations he’s faced.
The Oscar-winning actor was invited to speak at the prize-giving ceremony at the National Museum of Cinema in Turin on Monday.
He was awarded the prize in recognition of his “personal aesthetic and authorial contribution to the development of the art of drama.”
It came just days after the actor appeared via videolink at Southwark Crown Court in London, pleading not guilty to several charges of sexual misconduct against one man about 20 years ago.
The charges were joined to an earlier five-count indictment related to alleged sex offenses against three men between 2005 and 2013, for which Spacey previously professed his innocence.
Spacey, 63, won Oscars for performances in “American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects,” but his career largely ended a few years ago after more than 20 men accused him of sexual misconduct.
“I am surely blessed and grateful and humbled and my heart is very full tonight toward the Museum of Cinema for having had le palle (the guts) to invite me tonight,” said Spacey who collected the prize in person.
CNN affiliate Sky TG24 reported that the event also featured a masterclass by Spacey. The museum’s president Enzo Ghigo said: “We are honored that such a prestigious guest as Kevin Spacey has chosen Turin and our museum for this welcome and highly anticipated return to an event with the public. It is a privilege to be able to host the masterclass of one of cinema and theater’s greatest performers of our time.”
Tweeting about the event on Monday night, the museum described Spacey as “one of Hollywood’s best known faces” and praised his “extraordinary performances as an actor.”
In the run-up to the award ceremony, the Turin-based La Stampa newspaper ran an editorial headlined “Italy, land of plenary indulgence.”
The museum has been contacted for comment.
The seven additional charges that Spacey faced last week, which were authorized by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service in November, relate to alleged offenses in the early 2000s.
The “House of Cards” actor was granted unconditional bail ahead of a pre-trial review hearing in April. His trial, which is currently due to begin in June, is expected to last for four weeks.
In October, Spacey defeated a separate sexual abuse claim in the US brought against him by actor Anthony Rapp. Spacey was found not liable for battery in the civil trial.