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

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by Drew Taylor
December 13, 2011 12:05 PM
16 Comments
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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.

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16 Comments

  • JohnSvengali | August 21, 2013 4:55 PMReply

    Nolte ignored Kazan to make a statement; Scorsese ignores Nolte. Seems fair to me.

  • Al Bayrami | August 17, 2013 6:14 PMReply

    Whoever thinks Nick Nolte or anyone else was wrong in not applauding a coward snitch like Kazan is a person who doesn't understand morals and principles. Not to mention all the hypocrites who pretend like THEIR view on this situation is not coloured by THEIR politics despite the fact that it's all there in their messages. "The left" this, "Soviet Russia" that. There is no point in applauding a person you don't admire. And it doesn't matter that he was awarded for his artistic merits alone. What he did affected actors and directors of that era, he ruined their life (and no, he himself had not much to lose since he was already very established). Nolte is supposed to just look past that because it didn't affect him personally? At least he seems to have SOME loyalty and principles in him. Nolte, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan were one of the people in that hall who had enough balls to stand up for what's RIGHT instead of what's expected of them. The only bad thing is how Nolte at least in this post comes off as kind of lame in how he thinks it's such a big deal that his refusal was highlighted or if Scorsese was disappointed in him. Scorsese is one of the best directors of the last 50 years but if all this is true, to hell with him.

  • SAXMAN4U | April 4, 2012 6:57 PMReply

    Kazan was being honored for his professional excellence over a lifetime. His politics, whatever they might be, should not have been considered when assessing his contribution to filmmaking. That he chose, almost 50 years earlier, not to be a sacrificial lamb for the apologists for communism (and there were many such apologists in Hollywood at the time) should not have been held against him in 1999 by people who were very young or not yet born at the time he was being browbeaten and intimidated by a committee of rogue Congressional inquisitors. But it seems the political left never forgets...or forgives, if someone turns their back on leftist orthodoxy. What they do conveniently forget is the context of the times: the McCarthyites clearly had the power to ruin people, and they did. Who's to say that you, or I, or Nick Nolte, or Ed Harris would not have caved under that sort of stress? We just don't know. And to claim that snubbing Kazan was not a political statement is hard to believe. Nolte's problem, and that of Harris et. al., is that they were caught on camera. What we sow, we reap...

  • Andymovieman | January 4, 2012 12:41 PMReply

    if nolte feels guilty that's his mistake. he should have applauded for kazan. ed harris a freakin idiot. he joins the ranks of idiots like his co stars from apollo 13 and state of grace tom hanks and sean penn. i wouldn't watch anything new from ed harris, sean penn, tom hanks, tim robbins, brad pitt, george clooney and richard gere. de niro maybe i would something action packed from him. nolte i would watch a good movie if it was interesting to me.

  • Andymovieman | January 3, 2012 5:52 PMReply

    when i first heard about nick nolte and ed harris not applauding for elia kazan, i thought shame on them not applauding him. nolte and harris are good actors but they are both assholes. i wonder if deniro hates nolte as well as ed harris. ed harris was good in a history of violence and national treasure too. but this thing i can understand about communism with those two nuts. i wonder what jeff bridges thinks about his good friend nick nolte for doing that.

  • AJ | December 19, 2011 5:21 PMReply

    I remember watching that as a kid, it was extremely awkward. The people who didn't applaud had really holier than though expressions, which kind of made them hard to sympathize with, though in retrospect I respect their decisions.

  • Sarina | December 19, 2011 7:47 AMReply

    I applaud Nick Nolte for his decision to not applaud for a man who was responsible for ruining the careers of actors and directors. I've never been a fan of Martin Scorsese and this is one more reason I have to dislike his work.

  • a | March 11, 2012 3:24 PM

    You dislike his work because of that? How does that make sense?

  • soytim | December 13, 2011 6:40 PMReply

    I want to hear more about who applauded and who didn't, and if they felt like it had any effect on their careers. I haven't heard many attendees' thoughts on this. Does anyone else know where there is more info. about this?
    And by the way, some things are more important than good film making- I applaud those that didn't applaud!

  • tristan eldtritch | December 13, 2011 1:35 PMReply

    a, without which the deNiro/Scorsese partnership of the seventies is almost unthinkable. Scorsese was right to stand by him.

  • tristan eldritch | December 13, 2011 1:33 PMReply

    The award was for his contribution to cinema, not how politically righteous he was when under severe pressure. Elia Kazan made an absolutely galvanizing contribution to American cinem

  • a | March 11, 2012 3:23 PM

    Colossus, you clearly know nothing about what you're talking about, nor apparently do you understand what a "free country" is.

  • Colossus | March 11, 2012 1:33 PM

    Lardner Jr., Schulberg, Trumbo, and the lot, ruined their own career with their holier than thou attitude when questioned......oh and they promoted and ideology that killed millions of people. I say "bravo" to Gary Cooper, Kazan, Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, and especially Rand, who witnessed communism first hand and said (paraphrase) that shes "never seen any smiling faces in Soviet Russia." Fuck you nolte and harris.

  • Cde. | December 13, 2011 8:04 PM

    But is it right for a room full of actors and filmmakers to applaud a man who severely damaged the careers of a number of actors and filmmakers?

  • bitch_please | December 13, 2011 12:59 PMReply

    Scorsese should stick to partying with Nicholson and a bunch of underage girls like he did in the 70's and stop judging the others. Ughh, those damn hypocrites.

  • a | March 11, 2012 3:20 PM

    you seem to be confused.

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