Kevin Spacey plays an older man obsessed with his friend’s teenage daughter in American Beauty. (Jinks / Cohen Company)
Alan Ball has admitted he finds it “hard to watch” his Oscar-winning film American Beauty because of its star, Kevin Spacey.
More than 20 years after its release, Ball has admitted he struggles to watch the film that won him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay “without thinking about Kevin Spacey and all the allegations against him”.
“Especially since he plays a character who is lusting after someone who is not age-appropriate. It’s unfortunate,” Ball told The Irish Times.
American Beauty was released in 1999 to critical acclaim, and went on to become a box-office smash, raking in more than $350 million from a budget of just $15 million.
It also helped to cement the position of Spacey as one of Hollywood’s most eminent actors.
The film is widely considered to be a modern-day classic, but its reputation was tarnished when numerous people came forward – including actor Anthony Rapp – to allege that Spacey had sexually assaulted them or behaved inappropriately.
Spacey has denied assaulting Rapp, who would have been 14 at the time of the alleged attack. When Rapp came forward in 2017, Spacey said he didn’t remember any encounter with the actor, but apologised for “what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour”.
He also used the opportunity to come out as gay, a decision that was widely criticised by LGBT+ people as an attempt to deflect from the rising scandal. Since then, a number of other alleged victims have come forward. Rapp is currently suing Spacey.
Reflecting on the huge success of American Beauty, which tells the story of a middle-aged man who develops an intense obsession with his teenage daughter’s best friend, Ball said there was a period of time after its release in which he could “do no wrong”.
He followed the film with two incredibly successful series: Six Feet Under and True Blood, but added: “And then I wrote a movie called Towelhead and that bombed. And I did a series for HBO that didn’t go very well. And I’m no longer the golden boy.”
Alan Ball returns to cinema with Uncle Frank.
Ball will soon release Uncle Frank, a comedy-drama about a gay man returning home for his father’s funeral, his sexuality a secret to his relatives.
“It’s not autobiographical because I’m not Frank,” Ball told the Independent.
“Certainly, the family members [in the film] are not based on anyone in my family. But the whole dynamic, that whole sort of Southern milieu, I’m very familiar with.”