Richard Dreyfuss says Oscars diversity rules make him 'vomit’
Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss slams the Oscars' new diversity and inclusion requirements.
Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss has slammed the Oscars' new diversity and inclusion requirements, claiming "they make me vomit."
The co-star of Steven Spielberg's 1975 movie Jaws told PBS's Firing Line anchor Margaret Hoover that he disagreed with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' new set of guidelines for films to qualify for best picture awards.
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"Starting in 2024, films will be required to meet new inclusion standards to be eligible for the Academy Awards for best picture," stated Hoover. They must include a specified number of performers or crew members from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.
When asked what he thought of the new standards, Dreyfuss asserted that they made him "vomit."
He added that “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. What are we risking? Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that. You have to let life be life and I’m sorry, I don’t think there is a minority or majority in the country that has to be catered to like that.”
Films seeking best picture nominations must fulfill two of four standards, according to the Academy's new regulations, which will take effect for the 2025 Oscars.
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At least one lead character in the film must be from an "underrepresented racial or ethnic group," and at least 30% of the general ensemble cast must be from at least two underrepresented groups (women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ people, or people with disabilities), or the film's subject must focus on one of those groups.
Dreyfuss then defended Laurence Olivier, an English actor who wore blackface in a British film production of Shakespeare's tragedy Othello in 1965.
Blackface is considered offensive because white artists used it to ridicule enslaved black people in racist minstrel performances across the United States in the nineteenth century.
“Laurence Olivier was the last white actor to play Othello, and he did it in 1965,” Dreyfuss said. “And he did it in blackface. And he played a black man brilliantly.”
Dreyfuss added, referring to another Shakespeare play in which the primary antagonist is a Jewish money launderer, “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?”
According to the actor, the new standards are thoughtless and treat people "like children."
Early in 2023, Academy President Janet Yang explained to Sky News that the decision and new changes were put in place to "find the right balance," adding that the Academy was looking for rules that "make sense, that keep people kind of on your toes about it, but not telling people what to make.”