Richard Dreyfuss is receiving backlash on social media over his comments about the new diversity rules to be eligible for the Best Picture award at the Oscars.
“They make me vomit,” Dreyfuss said on PBS’ Firing Line. “This is an art form. It’s also a form of commerce, and it makes money, but it’s an art. No one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give in to the latest, most current idea of what morality is.”
The rules set by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will take effect in 2024. When posing the question to Dreyfuss, Firing Line host Margaret Hoover said, “Starting in 2024, films will be required to meet new inclusion standards to be eligible for the Academy Awards for Best Picture. They’ll have to have a certain percentage of actors or crew from under-represented racial or ethnic groups.”
Dreyfuss added, “And what are we risking? Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that. And you have to let life be life.”
The Jaws actor said that he doesn’t “think there’s a minority or a majority in the country that has to be catered to like that.”
Dreyfuss, who won an Oscar in 1977 in the Best Actor category for The Goodbye Girl, praised Laurence Oliver’s blackface performance of Othello.
“Am I being told that I will never have a chance to play a Black man?” Dreyfuss continued. “Is someone else being told that if they’re not Jewish, they shouldn’t play the ‘Merchant of Venice?’ Are we crazy? Do we not know that art is art?”
Hoover followed up with, “Do you think there’s a difference between the question of…who is allowed to represent other groups…and the case of blackface explicitly in this country given the history of slavery and the sensitivities around Black racism?”
“There shouldn’t be because it’s patronizing,” Dreyfuss replied. “Because it says we’re so fragile that we can’t have our feelings hurt. We have to anticipate having our feelings hurt, our children’s feelings hurt. We don’t know how to stand up and bop the bully in the face.”
Watch the full interview below.