Fair or not, three awards season acting contestants can be judged on more than just their performances.
On March 27, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, refused to leave the ceremony, accepted the Best Actor award and went to an after-party, sparking an uproar that led to Smith being banned from the Academy and the organization’s board. A decade from its events (they deserve Oscar recognition). Smith has since apologized to Rock multiple times, and Apple decided to push the release of the film, which Smith produced and starred in, from 2023 to December 2022. emancipationClearly hoping for awards recognition.
In legal documents filed Oct. 4 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Brad Pitt alleges that ex-wife Angelina Jolie physically assaulted him and their two children while they were married on a private flight from France in 2016. California. This prompted the FBI to investigate the allegations (Jolie said the government had “probable cause to charge Pitt with a federal crime, though the US Attorney’s Office declined) and Jolie filed for divorce. Pitt’s latest film, BabylonIn which he plays an important supporting role, Paramount will release on December 23.
Then there is lead actress Letitia Wright Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, released by Disney on December 11. Although far from the amount of baggage that Smith or Pitt have, she has endured her fair share of bad publicity in December 2020 when she retweeted an anti-vax conspiracy video and then ran counter to it. Wax views on the film set. (He denies the latter.) The backlash was so strong that some fans on social media called for the character to be recast.
Long before the trio’s travails, other Oscar hopefuls brought personal baggage on the awards trail.
Filmmakers Roman Polanski and Woody Allen accused of sexual impropriety – Polanski pleaded guilty to statutory rape of a 13-year-old and then fled the country in 1978 while awaiting sentencing; Allen was accused of child molestation by his adopted daughter in 1992 but never prosecuted — and both later won Oscars, the former for best director. Pianist Best Original Screenplay in 2003 and Later Midnight in Paris In 2012. Most recently, Mel Gibson, who went on an anti-Semitic rant during a 2006 DUI arrest and was accused of domestic abuse by his partner in 2010 (ultimately pleading no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge), was nominated for directing. Hacksaw Ridge In 2017.
And Oscar winners include Best Actor Casey Affleck Manchester by the Sea In 2017, he faced lawsuits from two women who alleged he had sexually harassed them in 2009 – and after settling; Gary Oldman, Best Actor Darkest hour In 2018, despite a 2001 abuse allegation by his ex-wife (police investigated the allegations, which Oldman always denied and never pressed charges); Kobe Bryant, Best Animated Short winner Dear Basketball In 2018, despite being accused of sexual assault in 2003 (he and the accuser settled); and Nick Vallelonga, winner of Best Picture and Original Screenplay The Green Book In 2019, he falsely claimed in a 2015 tweet that he saw Muslim Americans celebrating September 11, 2001.
Others accused of inappropriate behavior were received with less affection. Nate Parker’s 2016 directorial and acting prospects The birth of a nation Renewed attention was placed on the 1999 case of a then-evaporated — but ultimately acquitted — woman who killed herself after raping her. And director Bryan Singer, accused of sexually preying on underage boys (allegations he denies), was a major contributor in 2018. Bohemian Rhapsody Who is not nominated.
Obviously, not all charges are equally serious or solid – but is history a guide to what will happen to Smith, Pitt and Wright?
Smith started screening emancipation — which he’s said to be great at — last month to a predominantly black audience (famous friends, the Congressional Black Caucus, HBCU students, the Lakers), and then fielded questions from them, but we’ve yet to see him do interviews with the media. He’s banked some under the embargo, which will be in effect soon, which is an important step, as he can’t look like he’s hiding, nor can he afford to skip guild Q&As if he wants to take any shots. Winning back some Academy members. An October THR A poll of dozens of Oscar voters suggests many have deep reservations about him — but this season’s Best Actor race is so thin that if his performance is as strong as advertised and he can charm like he did last season, he might actually have a shot at a nom.
Pitt, meanwhile, never did much promotion (which didn’t stop him from winning Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in 2020) and, unlike Smith, he can claim to have been wrongly accused. In fact, his attorney said in a statement, “Brad has owned everything he’s been responsible for since day one — unlike the other side — but he’s not going to own anything he didn’t.” So his expectations may come down to whether voters trust him or trust Joli.
And then there’s Wright. As COVID abates, so does the intensity of anger at those who resisted or questioned safety measures, so she may face minimal resistance — but she may have a weak case for the nomination anyway.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.