Richard Dreyfuss criticizes the new diversity standards for the Academy Awards


May 7, 2023 | 5:40 a.m

Hollywood’s new diversity rules are making an actor sick.

Legendary actor Richard Dreyfuss has condemned the sweeping changes to be implemented at next year’s Academy Awards, 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 tell me as an artist that I should succumb to the latest, newest idea of ​​what morality is.”

Dreyfuss, who famously played Matt Hooper in the 1975 horror film “Jaws,” claimed that the standards were an enactment of people’s emotions.

“What are we risking? Do we really risk hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legitimize that. And—you have to make life life. And I’m sorry, I don’t think there’s a minority or a majority in the country that should be so provided for,” added Dreyfuss. .

Beginning in 2024, a film must meet certain diversity and inclusion criteria in four different categories set by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be considered “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards.

The categories, each relating to different aspects of film production, will require new diversity metrics to be met through “screen representation,” “creative leadership and project team,” “industry access and opportunities,” and “audience progression.”

“Onscreen representation” is classified as having at least one main character from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, where at least 30 percent of the secondary roles are from two underrepresented groups or the main story must focus on an underrepresented group.

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Dreyfuss, who famously played Matt Hooper (L) in the 1975 horror film “Jaws,” claimed that the Standards were enactments of people’s feelings.
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According to the Academy, underrepresented groups include women, people of color, and people who identify as LGBTQ+ or people with disabilities, and the new standards aim to encourage diversity on and off screen.

Dreyfus, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1977 for his role in The Goodbye Girl, defended Laurence Olivier in Shakespeare’s Othello, a Moorish military leader, which he played in blackface.

“(Olivier) did it in 1965. And he did it in blackface. He played a black man brilliantly,” said Dreyfuss.

“Has I been told I won’t get a chance to play a black man? Is someone else being told that if he’s not Jewish, he shouldn’t play The Merchant of Venice? Are we crazy? Don’t we know that art is art? This is very patronizing. It’s an order.” Unthoughtful, treating people like children.”

Starting with next year’s Academy Awards, films will have to meet certain diversity criteria in order to be considered for an Academy Award.
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Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1977 for his role in The Goodbye Girl.
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Dreyfuss suggested that the films remain focused on the truth of the story rather than manipulating it to meet the standard of who is in it.

“I once worked with a guy who was doing a movie about gangsters in the 1930s,” Dreyfuss recalled. I said: Why did you change this incident and that incident from reality? Because the reality was more interesting than what I made it out to be. And by changing it, I made it simpler and smaller. “

“I absolutely believe you can make a great movie or a great painting or a great opera out of fact first. And try that first. Then if you can’t do it, make up some shit. But don’t tell me you can’t do it, that history isn’t interesting.”

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