Directed by Italian actor Franco Nero, who also stars, the feature will be Spacey’s first role since 2017, when dozens of accusations of sexual harassment and assault saw the “House of Cards” actor effectively ostracized from Hollywood.
Nero’s wife, the actor Vanessa Redgrave, was originally believed to be appearing in the film, and received social media backlash regarding her starring role alongside Spacey, who has never publicly acknowledged the multiple allegations against him. Shortly after she was linked with the project, Redgrave’s reps issued a statement distancing the actor from the project.
“The Man Who Drew God” producer Louis Nero has confirmed to Variety that Dunaway will be playing the role Redgrave had been rumored to play. “She plays an old Braille teacher who is an old friend of the blind protagonist played by Nero and taught him how to read,” he said. “It’s the role that Vanessa Redgrave was meant to have. Vanessa isn’t up to traveling anymore.”
A poster for the new production, which is called “l’uomo che disegnò Dio” in Italian, was on show during the Cannes Film Festival this week, with Spacey given prime position on the poster and second billing in the credits after Nero.
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The pic, about a blind artist who can draw people from their voice and is wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child, also stars Robert Davi (“Die Hard”) and Stefania Rocca (“The Talented Mr. Ripley”).
According to the producer, shooting wrapped last week and the film is expected to be ready by September. Despite doubts over whether Hollywood is ready to welcome back the disgraced actor, Louis Nero was confident the film would sell.
“We have plenty of interest from buyers around the world,” he said. “All the controversy around the film has generated plenty of interest…It was good for the film, from my point of view.” The film is being sold in Cannes by The Motus Studios.
Variety contacted Dunaway’s representatives for comment, but did not hear back by press time.
Preston Northrop contributed to this story.