Kevin Spacey has been honoured at a gala ceremony commemorating his 11-year tenure as artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London.
Dozens of stars thronged the red carpet to pay tribute to the 55-year-old, whose leadership saved the playhouse from financial ruin and transformed it into a “real beacon”.
Mark Gatiss, who went on to write Sherlock after treading the boards with Dame Diana Rigg in All About My Mother, said Spacey’s departure was “the end of an era” for the theatre.
He added: “Kevin leaves the Old Vic in an incredibly healthy state. He had that amazing energy, an incredible amount of Hollywood glamour, but also that brilliant, very ‘new world’ sort of attitude of ‘we can do it’. I think he has done a fantastic job.”
Hugh Bonneville, who hosted the gala, was also full of praise for Spacey.
“He is very scary and is as funny as you can imagine. He is a consummate actor and he just loves the theatre,” the Downton Abbey star said.
As well as directing two productions and performing in nine, Spacey oversaw the launch of an education programme at the Old Vic, targeted at young people in one of London’s most deprived boroughs.