Actor Richard Dreyfuss has expressed his disapproval of the Academy Awards' new diversity guidelines, stating that such rules "make me vomit" during a recent interview on the PBS series "Firing Line."
The Academy announced in 2020 that starting in 2024, films must meet specific criteria for representation to be eligible for the Best Picture award. To qualify, movies must satisfy at least two of four benchmarks, which encompass factors such as representation of underrepresented groups among lead actors and ensuring that at least 30% of the cast and crew come from these groups.
In conversation with Margaret Hoover, Dreyfuss emphasized that filmmaking is an art form, and said, "No one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give into the latest, most current idea of what morality is."
The actor acknowledged that movies are a way to make money, but maintained that they are primarily an artistic endeavor.
The inclusion standards were implemented to address inequality in the industry, which led to the #OscarsSoWhite movement in 2015. However, Dreyfuss argued that catering to specific groups in this way is unnecessary, stating, "I don't think that there is a minority or a majority in this country that has to be catered to like that."
Dreyfuss went on to discuss Laurence Olivier's performance as Othello in the 1965 film, noting that Olivier was the last white actor to play the role and praising his "brilliant" portrayal.
He questioned whether he would ever be allowed to play a Black character or if a non-Jewish actor should be restricted from playing the Merchant of Venice, arguing that art should be free from such limitations.
When Hoover challenged Dreyfuss, asking about the difference between representation and the sensitivities surrounding blackface given the history of slavery, Dreyfuss responded that there should be no difference.
Hoover asked if there is “a difference between the question of representation and who is allowed to represent other groups … and the case of blackface, given the history of slavery and the sensitivities around black racism?”
Dreyfuss replied, “There shouldn’t be.”
“Because it’s patronizing,” he added. “Because it says that we’re so fragile that we can’t have our feelings hurt.”