Mena Suvari Details Her History of Sexual Abuse and Drug Addiction in New Memoir - Vanity Fair
Not many in Hollywood had a 1999 quite like Mena Suvari. The then unknown actress’s career skyrocketed when she played virginal teens in both the comedy blockbuster American Pie and best-picture Oscar winner American Beauty. But in Suvari’s debut book, The Great Peace: A Memoir, she writes about “living a double life” during this time—one filled with sexual abuse, drug addiction, and an “eerie” encounter with her American Beauty costar, Kevin Spacey.
“I spent almost my entire life feeling disgusted, ashamed, and in denial about what happened to me and what I had allowed myself to do and be a part of,” she writes, according to The New York Times . “Then one day, I stopped. I stopped running away and I looked at myself. I looked into the pain and what I saw was that I was ready to leave it all behind and heal.”
In her book, Suvari recounts a “strange” acting exercise that she and Spacey did on the set of American Beauty. Prior to their characters filming an intimate scene together, “Kevin took me into a small room with a bed and we laid next to each other, me facing toward him while he held me lightly,” she writes. “Lying there with Kevin was strange and eerie but also calm and peaceful…. I wasn’t sure if Kevin was interested in me or not. My head immediately went to that place, and I didn’t know how far he was going to take it or how I was going to react if he did go there. But he didn’t.” Suvari told People that she “thought of that day” when multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey emerged, beginning in 2017. (Spacey has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.)Kevin Spacey and Mena Suvari in 1999's ‘American Beauty.’ Hulton Archive
“Between the ages of twelve and twenty, I was the victim of repeated sexual abuse,” Suvari recounts in her book. At age 12, she writes, a 16-year-old boy referred to as “KJ” raped her. “Part of me died that day,” Suvari says. When she was 16, the actress writes that one of her representatives, then in his mid-30s, had sex with her. Suvari says that she contracted herpes. By age 17, she had begun a relationship with “Tyler,” who was 26. Over the course of their three years together, Suvari writes that he pressured her to perform sexual acts and verbally abused her. “Little by little he whittled away the thin layer of self-worth I had left,” she recalls.
During her teenage years, Suvari also developed a drug addiction as a way of coping with her distressing experiences. “I took drugs to numb myself from the pain,” Suvari writes. “Alcohol. Pot. Coke. Crystal meth. Acid. Ecstasy. Mushrooms. Mescaline. It was my way of detaching from the hell of my existence—and surviving.”
Suvari indicated that she had experienced personal turmoil during an interview with Vanity Fair in 2018. “I’ve had so many moments in life when I’ve been knocked down by other people,” she said at the time. “You start to convince yourself to stay in the safe lane. And then—whether you want to call it age or whatever—I just didn’t give a shit anymore.”
The Great Peace: A Memoir is available now on Hachette Books.
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