Anthony Rapp, the “Star Trek: Discovery” actor who has accused Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey of climbing on top of him at a party in 1986, conceded under oath on the witness stand Tuesday that one of his publicly stated reasons for coming forward with his allegation was not true.
Rapp’s lawyers said in their opening statement last week that Rapp was inspired to share his allegations with a BuzzFeed News reporter after reading an article in which Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o detailed a sexual harassment claim against Harvey Weinstein, who has denied all allegations of misconduct.
But a screenshot of a text message produced by Spacey’s lawyers apparently showed that Rapp first contacted BuzzFeed News reporter Adam B. Vary eight days earlier, writing in part: “I am wanting to speak out about someone else very powerful in the industry.”
Nyong’o wrote about her allegations against Weinstein in an essay published in The New York Times on Oct. 19, 2017, according to a timestamp on the publication’s website. The newspaper published its first investigation of Weinstein’s pattern of sexual misconduct on Oct. 5, 2017.
Rapp’s text message to Vary was sent on Oct. 11, 2017, according to a screenshot shown to jurors on the third day of Spacey’s trial. Rapp did not dispute the accuracy of the text message.
Vary’s article was posted on Oct. 29, 2017.
In cross-examination, Rapp conceded to Jennifer Keller, one of Spacey’s attorneys, that his account of being moved to come forward by the Nyong’o article was “not true.”
Rapp’s lawyers claim that Spacey, drunk and “unsteady on his feet,” rested his body on top of Rapp to “gratify his own sexual desires” at a party in Manhattan in 1986, when Rapp was just 14 and Spacey was 26. Spacey denies the allegation.
The apparent discrepancy in Rapp’s account came as the Spacey legal team attempted to discredit him. Keller argued on the first day of the trial that Rapp “created a story” about Spacey “for sympathy, for attention and to raise his profile.”
In a lengthy and aggressive cross-examination, Keller sought to portray Rapp as an embittered struggling actor who was jealous of Spacey’s success and believed that Spacey was a “fraud” for not being open about his sexual orientation. (In a tweet following the publication of the BuzzFeed article, Spacey admitted publicly for the first time that he is gay.)
Keller asked Rapp: “Do you really expect us to believe you were not envious of someone who has won” Oscars and other industry awards? “You wanted to be that person, didn’t you?”
Rapp responded: “No, ma’am. I wanted to work as an actor.”
Keller raised questions about two other components of Rapp’s account of events on Tuesday.
Rapp testified that he saw a 1986 production of the play “Long Day’s Journey into Night” with John Barrowman, a friend and fellow actor who was staying with Rapp and his mother in New York.
Rapp said that he and Barrowman went backstage to meet Jack Lemmon. Spacey then came in and invited Rapp and Barrowman to dinner at a casual restaurant nearby, Rapp testified. The three then went to a nightclub at Spacey’s suggestion, Rapp told jurors.
However, Keller highlighted that the BuzzFeed News article states that Spacey approached Rapp and Barrowman at one of the “late-night, post-show gatherings at which many different Broadway casts would eat and mingle,” common at the time.
Rapp, in his testimony Tuesday, insisted that Vary’s characterization applied to the meeting with Spacey near Lemmon’s dressing room.
Rapp also testified that he went to Spacey’s apartment just one time — days later, on the night of the alleged encounter. However, Spacey’s lawyers highlighted part of a deposition transcript in which Barrowman claims that he and Rapp visited Spacey’s apartment the same night they got dinner and went to the nightclub.
Barrowman claims that the three played with Spacey’s dog and admired his view of New York City. Rapp testified Tuesday that he has no recollection of that visit.
Barrowman is a professional actor best known in the United Kingdom for his role in the series “Doctor Who.”
Rapp testified earlier in the day that, following his alleged encounter with Spacey, he “pushed it to the side” and tried his best to move on with his life.
But in 1988, he said he was faced with a reminder that “disturbed” him. He went to see the romantic comedy film “Working Girl” by himself and discovered that Spacey appeared in the movie in a supporting role.
“It was as if somebody poked me with a cattle prod,” Rapp told jurors. He recalled feeling shot through with adrenaline during Spacey’s scenes.
Rapp testified that he went on to see six other Spacey movies, including “The Usual Suspects,” “LA Confidential,” “Se7en” and “American Beauty.” He said he saw those films because he felt it was his “duty” as a fellow actor.
“American Beauty” was the last Spacey film Rapp saw because watching the older actor on screen had gotten “harder” and, in that Oscar-winning drama, Spacey was “playing a character who was sexually involved with a teenage girl” — a scenario Rapp said he found it “unpleasantly familiar.”
Rapp testified that he saw Spacey in person three times after the alleged 1986 encounter: in a dining room on a film set in 1993, at the Tony Awards in 1999 and at a benefit concert at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center in either 2013 or 2014.
Rapp testified that he shared his allegations privately with at least five friends over the years, including Barrowman.
He testified that after reading about Nyong’o, he “identified” with parts of her alleged experiences and, like her, felt it was important to shine a “light where there was darkness before.”
Rapp then reached out to Vary, a friend he “knew and trusted” as well as a reporter who worked with “integrity.” Rapp told jurors that he felt “safe” to share his allegations about Spacey with Vary.
Rapp testified that he was not involved in the publication process and did not see a draft of the article before it was published.