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Biting The Hand That Feeds? 10 Actors Who Dissed The Oscars Before Joaquin Phoenix

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist October 19, 2012 at 3:28PM

Yesterday, "The Master" star Joaquin Phoenix raised some eyebrows when a choice quote from his conversation with Elvis Mitchell in Interview Magazine, in which he slammed the awards process, made the rounds: "I'm just saying that I think it's bullshit. I think it's total, utter bullshit, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other...It's the stupidest thing in the whole world... It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when 'Walk the Line' was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don't know how to explain it—and it's not like I'm in this place where I think I'm just above it—but I just don't ever want to get comfortable with that part of things."
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Dustin Hoffman 1969
Dustin Hoffman
The director of this year's hopeful "Quartet" started out with an approach to the Oscars that was mostly focused on self-loathing, saying on night before the 1968 ceremony, for which he was nominated for "The Graduate": "I hope to God I don't win an Oscar tomorrow night. It would really depress me if I did. I really don't deserve it. It wasn't that important a part anyhow." Fortunately for him, Rod Steiger won for "In The Heat Of The Night." Seven years later, when nominated for "Lenny," he was much harsher, saying, "The Academy Awards are obscene, dirty... no better than a beauty contest" (which earned him a rebuke from Frank Sinatra).

When he won for "Kramer Vs. Kramer", four years later, he was more gracious, while not letting go of his essential problems with the Oscars. "I'm up here with mixed feelings. I've been critical of the Academy, and for reason. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be able to work... I refuse to believe that I beat Jack Lemmon, that I beat Al Pacino, that I beat Peter Sellers. I refuse to believe that Robert Duvall lost. We are a part of an artistic family," he said. "There are sixty thousand actors in this Academy – pardon me – in the Screen Actors Guild, and probably a hundred thousand in Equity. And most actors don't work, and a few of us are so lucky to have a chance to work with writing and to work with directing. Because when you're a broke actor you can't write; you can't paint; you have to practice accents while you're driving a taxi cab. And to that artistic family that strives for excellence, none of you have ever lost and I am proud to share this with you. And I thank you."

Bill Murray
The "Ghostbusters" star's chances have faded this year after "Hyde Park On Hudson" picked up disappointing reviews, but it might be for the best. In 2005, the year after another one-time Oscar agnostic Sean Penn beat him to Best Actor, Murray responded when the Guardian asked if he was pissed off by saying "Pissed off? You bet I was. I don't approve of award ceremonies, so I was wondering what had persuaded me to attend that one. I was pissed at myself."

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe
The star of the biggest franchise in history hasn't yet been in awards-bait material, so he may come to regret the comments he made earlier this year, sparked by disappointment that the final 'Harry Potter' only received technical nominations. "I don't think the Oscars like commercial films, or kids' films, unless they're directed by Martin Scorsese," Radcliffe told the Radio Times.  "I was watching 'Hugo' the other day and going, 'Why is this nominated and we're not?' I was slightly miffed. There's a certain amount of snobbery. It's kind of disheartening. I never thought I'd care. But it would've been nice to have some recognition, just for the hours put in."

George C. Scott
One of only a handful of actors to outright refuse an Oscar, Scott initially turned down a supporting nomination for "The Hustler," then when he was nominated in 1970 for "Patton," did so again, telling the press: "The ceremonies are a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons... offensive, barbarous and innately corrupt." He still won, but was at home watching a hockey game.

Marlon Brando
Perhaps the most flamboyant refusal of an Oscar of all time, Marlon Brando who had glady accepted the statue in 1955 for "On The Waterfront," wasn't so eager the next time around. In 1973, he won for his role in "The Godfather," but Sacheen Littlefeather attended the awards in his place, and when the actor's name was called, went on stage and explained that Brando "very regretfully" couldn't accept the award. Brando later clarified his position in an editorial in the New York Times. “The motion picture community has been as responsible as any, for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil,” he wrote.

Brando would be nominted twice more, but wouldn't win.

Bonus: Matt Dillon
Ok, so Dillon's never spoken out against the Academy himself, but in character as his Tom Hanks-inspired movie star in 1997's Frank Oz comedy "In & Out," Dillon summed up the approach of many ambivalent stars. Dillon says on the Oscar red carpet: "Basically to me, awards are meaningless. I'm an artist. It's about the work. All the nominees are artists. We shouldn't be forced to compete like dogs." The interviewer, understandably puzzled, asks him why he's still attending to the ceremony, to which Dillon replies, "In case I win." Fair enough.

This article is related to: Features, Oscars, Joaquin Phoenix


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