vulture festival la 2017

Mike Schur on Kevin Spacey: ‘It Was the Most Open Secret That’s Ever Existed’

Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

The Good Place creator Mike Schur says he chose to speak out on social media about Louis C.K., a regular guest star on the Schur-produced Parks & Recreation, because he felt it’s time that people in Hollywood start seriously talking about sexual harassment — including those like himself who had inklings about celebrity misconduct.“The biggest problem is the weird, creepy, awful behavior, but one of the contributing problems is that no one ever talks about it,” said Schur during a Vulture Festival conversation with The Leftovers showrunner Damon Lindelof. “In my own reckoning of my own behavior, my own past, I thought, ‘Well, I didn’t say anything. I am complicit, just like anyone else is.’ So I felt that sucked, and I wanted to say something.”

“These people are out there,” Schur continued. “If you think everybody knew about Louie, everybody knew about Kevin Spacey. I was on Saturday Night Live [as a writer] from ’98 to 2004 … and I remember very distinctly when he was hitting on the [network] pages, and he’s hitting on the young men in the talent department. You talk about an open secret — it was the most open secret that’s ever existed. I didn’t know the extent to which the behavior was predatory, certainly, but no one didn’t know — anyone who ever worked with that guy knew that.”

Lindelof has also spent some time reflecting on the industry culture. He recounted a situation on The Leftovers in which Justin Theroux’s genitals appeared in sharp outline during a scene in which he wore sweatpants, noticeable enough to became a talking point in Theroux’s many interviews and talk-show appearances to promote the series. Theroux laughed it off on-camera, and Lindelof made further jokes about it in the press and on social media, not realizing he was calling attention to an uncomfortable situation for the actor.

“I never asked, ‘Justin, is this cool?’” said Lindelof, who subsequently apologized to the actor when he realized the commentary had gone too far. “Start with the premise that you are part of the problem.”

Lindelof also offered a first step for showrunners like himself. “Build a culture through representation,” he said. “Don’t have a writers room that’s dominated by white dudes. Create parity … You’ll start to build a culture where that shit is not going to happen anymore.”

Schur: Kevin Spacey ‘the Most Open Secret That Ever Existed’