March 29, 2023

Actor Kevin Spacey broke down in sobs as he revealed his father was a white supremacist and neo-Nazi who would scream at him when he thought he was gay, a New York courtroom heard.

Spacey, 63, said while taking the stand in a civil lawsuit in New York that as a child his father, Thomas Fowler, would call him a ‘f****t’ while lecturing him for ‘hours and hours’ about his racist and homophobic beliefs.

An emotional Spacey, who gave an unprecedented insight into his private life as he wiped away tears, told the court that his father’s arguments made him hate bigotry and intolerance.

The House of Cards actor said it was ‘terrifying’ to consider bringing his school friends home because he was ‘terrified’ of what his father, who died on Christmas Eve 1992 aged 68, would say.

A choked-up Spacey said that when he became interested in theatre, he endured the screams of Mr Fowler, a failed writer, who ‘used to shout at me at the thought that I might be gay’.

Actor Kevin Spacey broke down in sobs as he revealed his father was a white supremacist and neo-Nazi who would scream at him when he thought he was gay, a New York courtroom heard. Pictured: Court sketch of Spacey wiping away tears during his testimony in New York on Monday

Kevin Spacey's father Thomas Fowler

Kevin Spacey's father Thomas Fowler

Kevin Spacey’s father Thomas Fowler

Spacey said he didn’t come out as gay publicly for years because he was raised to believe that you should ‘never ever, ever talk about anything.’

He told the courtroom in New York: ‘I grew up in a very complicated family dynamic. My father was unemployed a large part of the time, so therefore he was at home a lot of the time.

‘My father fell into some ideas and people that I think hurt his mind and sensibilities, and my father was a white supremacist and neo-Nazi.

‘This meant we were forced to listen to hours and hours of lectures about his beliefs and ideas.’

Spacey said it was these lectures that were the basis of his ‘hatred of bigotry and intolerance.’

He said: ‘I was humiliated and scared to even consider bringing my friends over to my house because I was scared of what my friends would say.

‘My best friend was Jewish. I could not bring him to my house. Everything that happened in that house was something I felt I had to keep to myself, keep private and never ever talk about.’

Spacey told the jury that his early life was born in New Jersey and moved to California when he was three years old.

His mother, Kathleen Fowler, worked as a secretary and was the breadwinner, but they moved nine or 10 times by the time Spacey was 11.

His interest in acting was piqued by his mother, who ‘loved music and movies’ and introduced Spacey to movie stars of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

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He discovered he had an ‘ear for impression’ and said that making his mother laugh was ‘one of the greatest sounds I ever heard’.

Spacey's acting interest was piqued by his mother Kathleen Fowler (pictured together at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival), who 'loved music and movies' and introduced Spacey to movie stars of the 1930s, 40s and 50s

Spacey's acting interest was piqued by his mother Kathleen Fowler (pictured together at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival), who 'loved music and movies' and introduced Spacey to movie stars of the 1930s, 40s and 50s

Spacey’s acting interest was piqued by his mother Kathleen Fowler (pictured together at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival), who ‘loved music and movies’ and introduced Spacey to movie stars of the 1930s, 40s and 50s

Spacey (pictured with his mother as a baby) discovered he had an 'ear for impressions' and said that making his mother laugh was 'one of the greatest sounds I've ever heard'.

Spacey (pictured with his mother as a baby) discovered he had an 'ear for impressions' and said that making his mother laugh was 'one of the greatest sounds I've ever heard'.

Spacey (pictured with his mother as a baby) discovered he had an ‘ear for impressions’ and said that making his mother laugh was ‘one of the greatest sounds I’ve ever heard’.

After being sent to military school, Spacey began taking acting workshops, including one with actor Jack Lemmon, who said his performance had a “touch of awesome”—Spacey briefly impersonated Lemmon when telling the anecdote.

Spacey’s friend Val Kilmer also pushed him to start acting, Spacey said.

The actor, who came out as gay in 2017, said he didn’t do it before because of his childhood.

He said: ‘I grew up in a situation as a child where I wasn’t comfortable talking about these things. My father used to yell at me for the idea that I could be gay because I was interested in the theater.

‘My dad used to scream at me don’t be an F word which is very derogatory to the gay community. It was very disturbing to me because I was beginning to discover my own sexuality. I think I had a degree of shame, but I also think I wanted people to remember the characters I played in and not to know too much about me.

‘That is my reasoning, I protected the work.’

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