Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss has issued some criticism of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new diversity and inclusion standards, saying the updated requirements for Oscar contention «make me gag.»
Dreyfuss’s comments came during a wide interview on PBS’s “Firing Line With Margaret Hoover,” in which the actor discussed American civics, partisan discourse and the Academy’s diversity inclusion initiative.
The four new diversity and inclusion standards were first announced in 2020; will be instituted for the upcoming 2024 Academy Awards, and two of the four must be met for a valid best picture submission. The four standards are described as expanding on-screen representation, themes, or narrative; expand representation among creative leadership and department heads; provide industry access and opportunities to underrepresented demographic groups; and expand representation in audience development.
«It’s an art. No one should tell me as an artist that I have to give in to the latest and most current idea of what morality is. What are we risking? Do we really run the risk of hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that,» Dreyfuss told Hoover. “You have to let life be life. I’m sorry, I don’t think there is a minority or a majority in the country that has to be treated like this.»
Dreyfuss’s comments continued with a defense of Laurence Olivier’s performance in the 1965 film «Othello,» in which the English actor played Shakespeare’s protagonist in blackface.
“He brilliantly played a black man. Are you telling me that I will never get the chance to play a black man? Is anyone else told that if he’s not a Jew, he shouldn’t play? [in] ‘The merchant of Venice’? We are crazy? Dreyfuss stated. “This is so condescending. It’s so inconsiderate and treating people like children.»
Dreyfuss’ notable credits include «Jaws,» «Close Encounters of the Third Kind,» «American Graffiti,» «W.» and «Mr. Opus from Holland. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for «The Goodbye Girl.» The interview with Dreyfuss also touched on renewed efforts to control the curriculum and ban certain books in public schools. .
“I think we are cowards. Republicans send their children to school hoping and praying that their children will return, Republicans and Democrats send their children to school with an urgent prayer that their children will be Democrats again,» Dreyfuss said. “The idea that a parent would walk into a public school and say, ‘I don’t want my kids to be exposed to opposing views.’ That is wrong.»