When the new series of US political drama House Of Cards was screened earlier this month, it received an unusually lacklustre reception.
The much-acclaimed show, now in its sixth season, had been a cornerstone of Netflix’s annual schedule, with tens of millions around the world gripped by the malevolent scheming of its central character, President Frank Underwood, portrayed to eerie perfection by actor Kevin Spacey.
But this time, there is a gaping hole – Spacey is missing, his iconic character killed off by uneasy producers and script writers following sexual assault and harassment allegations made against the actor by a string of young men last year.
The show limps on regardless, with a female president in the form of Frank’s equally ruthless wife Claire, icily played by Robin Wright.
But the real drama lies elsewhere. For despite being one of Hollywood’s most recognisable stars, Spacey has apparently disappeared off-screen as well as on it.
Nothing has been seen or heard of the double Oscar-winning actor since the first allegations emerged over a year ago in October 2017.
On both sides of the Atlantic, where Spacey owns multi-million-pound homes, the question is being asked with growing urgency: where is Kevin Spacey? ‘He’s become a total recluse,’ one friend told The Mail on Sunday.
‘No one has heard from him. He’s vanished. It’s almost unbelievable that someone of his stature can pull it off in a world where everyone has a cell phone.’
One producer described Spacey as having ‘one of the most recognisable faces on the planet’ and added: ‘I was with him when he walked into a restaurant in Beverly Hills and the whole place applauded.’
It may be a long time before he garners applause again.
His downfall began on October 29, 2017, when Star Trek actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of sexually assaulting him in the star’s New York apartment in 1986 when Rapp was just 14, triggering a string of similar complaints.