Richard Dreyfuss: Oscars' Inclusion Rules 'Make Me Vomit'

'Am I being told that I will never have a chance to play a Black man?'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2023 2:00 AM CDT
Richard Dreyfuss: Oscars Diversity Rules 'Make Me Vomit'
Richard Dreyfuss arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Murder at Yellowstone City" on Thursday June 23, 2022, at Harmony Gold Theater in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Richard Dreyfuss has been strangely outspoken in recent weeks, and his most recent remarks to make headlines came during a Friday interview on PBS' Firing Line. The actor said the Academy Awards' new diversity and inclusion rules, which take effect next year, "make me vomit," CNN reports. The rules require best picture contenders to meet two of four benchmarks involving the diversity of the cast and crew, and Dreyfuss told Margaret Hoover he's not in favor "because this is an art form ... and no one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give into the latest, most current idea of what morality is."

He continued, per Variety, "Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that. You have to let life be life. I’m sorry, I don’t think there is a minority or majority in the country that has to be catered to like that.” He went on to note that Laurence Olivier was the last white person to play Othello, in a 1965 film in which Olivier wore blackface. "Am I being told that I will never have a chance to play a Black man?” he mused. “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?”

(Joyce Carol Oates' take on that: "Richard Dreyfuss has a point: it's terribly unfair that given today's common-sense notions of casting even the very most brilliant Black actor would not likely be cast to play Richard Dreyfuss.") Asked by Hoover whether there's a difference between representation in general and blackface specifically, with its racist history, Dreyfuss said, "There shouldn’t be. Because it’s patronizing. Because it says that we’re so fragile that we can’t have our feelings hurt.” Prior to Friday's interview, Dreyfuss had also recently told Dave Rubin that Americans have "lost pride" in the country and lamented the lack of civics knowledge among the populace, and had a weird conversation with Bill Maher while only halfway in his chair. (More Richard Dreyfuss stories.)

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