Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss responded to the Academy Awards new inclusion standards with disgust and said "they make me want to vomit" in an interview on the PBS program Firing Line with Margaret Hoover on Saturday.
"Starting in 2024, films will be required to meet new inclusion standards," Hoover said. "To be eligible for the Academy Awards for Best Picture, they'll have to have a certain percentage of actors or crew from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. What do you think of these new inclusion standards for films?" Dreyfuss answered, "They make me vomit"
Dreyfuss continued, "this is an art form. It's also a form of commerce and it makes money but it's an art. And no one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give in to the latest, most current idea of what morality is. And what we are risking? Are we really risking hurting people's feelings? You can't legislate that. And you have to let life be life."
The actor added, "And I'm sorry, I don't think that there's a minority or a majority in the country that has to be catered to like that. You know, Laurence Olivier was the last white actor to play Othello. And he did it in 1965. And he did it in blackface and he played a black man, brilliantly."
"Am I being told that I will never have a chance to play a black man? Is someone else being told that if they're not Jewish, they shouldn't play The Merchant of Venice? Are we crazy? Do we not know that art is art?" Dreyfuss said. "This is so patronizing. It's so thoughtless and treating people like children."
Hoover wasked, "Do you think there was a difference between the question of representation and who is allowed to represent other groups?"
"There shouldn't be because it's patronizing," Dreyfuss answered. "It says that we're so fragile that we can't have our feelings hurt. We have to anticipate having our feelings hurt… We don't know how to stand up and bop the bully in the face."
"I totally believe that you can make a great film or a great painting or a great opera out of the truth," he added. "Try that first, and then if you can't do it, then make up some nonsense, but don't tell me you can't do that."
In September of 2020, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their "new representation and inclusion standards for Best Picture eligibility."
"At least 30 percent of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least one of the following underrepresented groups: women, racial or ethnic, LGBTQ+, or people with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing," according to the Academy's new rules.
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