MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged:‘ They Make Me Vomit’: Jaws Star Richard Dreyfuss Blasts New Oscars Diversity Rules!
NYPost.com, By Nicholas McEntyre, Posted May 19th 2023
Hollywood’s new diversity rules are making one actor sick.
Legendary actor Richard Dreyfuss condemned the inclusivity changes that will be implemented for next year’s Oscars, saying the new standards “make me vomit.”
“This is an art form. It’s also a form of commerce, and it makes money. But it’s an art,” Dreyfuss said on PBS’ “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover.” “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.”
Dreyfuss, who famously played Matt Hooper in the 1975 horror film “Jaws,” claimed the standards were legislating people’s feelings.
“What are we risking? Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that. And– you have to let life be life. And I’m sorry, I don’t think that there is a minority or a majority in the country that has to be catered to like that,” Dreyfuss added.
Starting in 2024, a film has to meet certain diversity and inclusion standards in four different categories set out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be considered for “Best Picture” at the Oscars.
The categories, each pertaining to different aspects of a movie’s production, would require new diversity measures to be met through “On-screen Representation,” “Creative Leadership and Project Team,” “Industry Access and Opportunities,” and “Audience Advancement.”
“On-screen Representation” is classified as at least one lead character from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, having at least 30 percent of secondary roles be from two underrepresented groups or the main storyline has to focus on an underrepresented group.
According to the Academy, underrepresented groups include women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+ or people with disabilities, and the new standards are meant to encourage diversity on and off the screen.
Dreyfuss, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1977 for his role in “The Goodbye Girl,” defended Laurence Olivier in Shakespeare’s Othello, a Moorish military commander, which he played in blackface.
“(Olivier) did it in 1965. And he did it in blackface. And he played a black man brilliantly,” Dreyfuss said.
“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? This is so patronizing. It’s so thoughtless, and treating people like children.”
Dreyfuss suggested movies should remain focused on the reality of the story instead of manipulating it to meet a standard of who’s in it.
“I once worked for a guy who was making a film about the gangsters of the thirties,” Dreyfuss recalled. “I said, ‘Why did you change this incident and that incident from the reality? Because the reality was so much more interesting than what you created. And by changing it you made it simple and smaller.”
“I totally believe that you can make a great film or a great painting or a great opera out of the truth first. And try that first. And then if you can’t do it, then make up some nonsense. But don’t– don’t tell me you can’t do that, that history isn’t that interesting.