Richard Dreyfuss criticizes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new diversity and inclusion requirements.
The Jaws told actor Margaret Hoover on Friday’s episode of PBS’ Line of fire minimum requirements that films must meet in terms of representation and inclusion in order to be considered for the best film Oscar ‘make me puke’.
“This is an art form,” he continued. “It is also a form of commerce, and it generates money, but it is an art. And no one should tell me as an artist that I have to give in to the newest, most up-to-date idea of what morality is.”
In 2020, the Academy announced it would begin rolling out inclusivity standards in 2021 “to encourage equitable representation on and off screen to better reflect the diversity of film audiences.” And from 2024, films will have to meet minimum requirements to qualify for the best picture category.
Dreyfuss, who won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1978 for The farewell girl, added: “And what are we risking? Are we really at risk of hurting people’s feelings? You cannot legislate that. And you have to let life be life.”
The American Graffiti actor then went on to defend Laurence Olivier’s performance in the 1965 film Othelloin which Olivier played the leading role of Shakespeare in Blackface.
“He brilliantly played a black man,” Dreyfuss told Hoover. “Am I being told I will never get a chance to play a black man? Is anyone else being told that if they’re not Jewish they shouldn’t be playing? The trader from Venice? Are we crazy? Don’t we know that art is art? This is so patronizing. It’s like that, it’s so thoughtless, and treating people like children.
Hoover continued by asking Close Encounters of the Third Kind actor if “There is a difference between the issue of representation and who is allowed to represent other groups? … And the case of blackface, explicit in this country, given the history of slavery and the sensibilities surrounding black racism.
He replied, ‘It shouldn’t be. … Because it’s patronizing. Because it says that we are so fragile that our feelings cannot be hurt. We have to anticipate that our feelings will be hurt, our children’s feelings will be hurt. We don’t know how to stand up and slap the bully in the face.”