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Nick Nolte Says That His Refusal to Applaud Elia Kazan Has Cost Him His Working Relationship With Martin Scorsese

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist December 13, 2011 at 12:05PM

Nick Nolte has never been one to hold back on ruffling people's feathers. He famously (or maybe infamously) lost the role of Superman after he claimed the character was schizophrenic, and still, at the tender age of 70, carries with him a fuck-em-if-they-can't-take-a-joke attitude that is both irritating and endearing (it helps that he's still an excellent actor, as was evidenced in the oddly ignored "Warrior" earlier this year). In a recent GQ interview, though, he says that one of his more outspoken stances may have cost him a relationship with one of the most powerful directors in town.
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Martin Scorsese Nick Nolte

Nick Nolte has never been one to hold back on ruffling people's feathers. He famously (or maybe infamously) lost the role of Superman after he claimed the character was schizophrenic, and still, at the tender age of 70, carries with him a fuck-em-if-they-can't-take-a-joke attitude that is both irritating and endearing (it helps that he's still an excellent actor, as was evidenced in the oddly ignored "Warrior" earlier this year). In a recent GQ interview, though, he says that one of his more outspoken stances may have cost him a relationship with one of the most powerful directors in town.

In the interview (which is kind of a must read), he claims that his decision to not applaud Elia Kazan at the 1999 Oscars (the year he was up for a Best Actor award for "Affliction"), has cost him a relationship with Martin Scorsese, who had directed Nolte (with Robert DeNiro) in his hellzapoppin' "Cape Fear" remake a few years before. Kazan was a controversial choice given his history as a "friendly witness" before McCarthy's House Committee on Un-American Activities, outing many contemporaries. "Marty and Bob brought him out," Nolte told the magazine. "I didn't know that they were presenting him. Not that it would necessarily change my decision." Nolte can still remember who made nice and applauded the filmamker, "You can name those guys: Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and those guys, they're not going to get in trouble. But Ed Harris and myself, some, just weren't going to applaud." Yeah, we still remember how terribly awkward this televised moment was.

Nolte says that he still has to live with that decision. "Scorsese won't have anything to do with me," he said. "Ever since." Nolte seems to blame the Academy for most of the fallout, though, since they were the ones who made applauding or not-applauding some kind of political statement. "I'm hurt," he said. "And obviously I hurt Marty. But it was a terrible situation. And actors should not have been put in that position to be able to be judged over whether they applauded or not."

You can watch Nolte's turn as an alcoholic ex-trainer in "Warrior" (since you undoubtedly missed it in theaters), when it hits DVD and Blu-ray on December 20th. He also stars in David Milch's new racetrack drama "Luck," which had a special sneak peek premiere on Sunday night, when it starts its regular season on January 27th. He growls in both.

This article is related to: David Milch, Nick Nolte, Elia Kazan, Martin Scorsese, Luck, Warrior


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