As he awaits a court appearance for felony assault charges, Kevin Spacey has made a bizarre return to the public eye — and it’s happening in Baltimore.
The actor’s downward spiral began in the second half of 2017, when more than 30 people accused Spacey of sexual misconduct. In December, it was revealed that he had been charged with groping an 18-year-old man in Nantucket, Mass. Spacey responded to the allegations with a viral video that appears to have been filmed in Baltimore, speaking in character as Frank Underwood from “House of Cards.”
Then, days later, he was spotted delivering pizza to paparazzi near the waterfront Baltimore condo to which he’s been tied.
Scheduled to appear in court Jan. 7 in Nantucket to be arraigned on the indecent assault and battery charges, Spacey could face as many as five years in prison if convicted. In the meantime, the two-time Academy Award winner has chosen Baltimore as his apparent place of refuge.
Why, you might ask?
Spacey’s starring role in “House of Cards” — from which he was fired after misconduct allegations surfaced — brought him to the Baltimore area, where much of the Netflix series is filmed.
In an interview with Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik in 2014, Spacey praised the city and the decision to anchor the political drama here.
“We are enormously delighted to have our home in Baltimore,” he said to Zurawik after praising the quality of the local production crew and the way he and his colleagues have been “so welcomed” while filming on locations in Maryland that stand in for Washington.
The Baltimore Sun’s former Calvert Street headquarters even doubled as the Washington Herald newsroom in “House of Cards” for a couple months in 2012.
Maryland drew House of Cards with millions of dollars in tax incentives, creating over 6,000 jobs and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy.
Rumors also swirled last year in Baltimore that Spacey had purchased a condo in the Inner Harbor’s Pier Homes at Harborview — though the actor’s agent and friend Evan Lowenstein later confirmed he, and not Spacey, owned the $5.6 million home.
The 9,000 square-foot estate boasts five levels, seven bathrooms and three half-bathrooms, six-bedrooms, both a spiral staircase and an elevator, a panoramic roof deck, a sauna, a billiards room and a home theater, among other highlights. It’s part of the 87-home gated Pier Homes at Harborview development.
One with the locals
Before his fall from grace, Spacey assimilated into Baltimore’s culture over the years, making public appearances in theaters, restaurants, sporting events and coffee shops.
In 2012, fans spotted Spacey and former president Bill Clinton grabbing coffee at a Mount Vernon Starbucks near the University of Baltimore campus. Spacey went on to joke about the public rendezvous on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
About a week later, onlookers reported another Spacey sighting. This time, at a Navy football game, where he rooted for the home team. He was rumored to have previously worked out with the midshipmen.
The same year, he name-dropped Annapolis’ Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge to the Men’s Journal as his favorite hang-out spot. "It's both a music venue with live bands and a bar with a roof deck," Spacey told the magazine. "A very cool place."
Spacey threw out the first pitch at the Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays game in July 2013. He tweeted about the experience: "Jim Johnson @Orioles signed the ball I threw & gave me one of his gloves! Awesome gift. I threw a strike!"
He also paid visits to Baltimore’s Center Stage to watch its production of "Beneatha's Place" in 2013, and to Annapolis to schmooze with lawmakers in 2014 in an effort to increase the state’s tax incentive for his show.
Spacey was also one of the most notable celebrities to be spotted at the Preakness. Most recently, he shared laughs and conversation at the 2017 horse race with Marlon Humphrey, then the Ravens’ first-round draft pick. Spacey bet on Samitar, who came in fourth.
The Baltimore breakdown
After a call from a tipster, Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton analyzed Spacey’s viral “comeback” video and found that the backdrop appeared to be the same as Lowenstein’s condo. Donning a cartoon-Santa apron while cooking (and intermittently sipping an unidentifiable beverage out of a mug), Spacey/Frank Underwood deadpans that he “certainly won’t pay the price of something he didn’t do.”
The video, titled “Let me be Frank,” has over 9 million YouTube views.
“Of course they’re going to say I’m being disrespectful, not playing by the rules, like I ever played by anyone’s rules before,” Spacey muses. His tone then darkens. “I never did, and you loved it.”
A few days later, Spacey, wearing a hat that said “Retired since 2017,” delivered a medium cheese pizza from Domino’s to members of the paparazzi staked across the harbor from the Baltimore estate.
“I know you’re just doing your job,” he told one photographer. “Keep warm and have a happy new year.”
Spacey’s attorneys have not spoken publicly about the case but in a court hearing questioned the evidence. A message left with Spacey’s Los Angeles-based attorney was not immediately returned.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton and Los Angeles Times reporter Libby Hill contributed to this article.