Sylvester Stallone Considered Boycotting The Oscars, But 'Creed' Director Ryan Coogler Changed His Mind
What should you do when you're nominated for an Oscar but you're also upset about the way the Oscars have completely ignored incredible performances by minority actors for the second year in a row? This is a question that Spotlight 's Mark Ruffalo grappled with a few weeks ago — and it's one his fellow Best Supporting Actor nominee Sylvester Stallone posed to himself as well, apparently. The 69-year-old icon earned his third Oscar nomination (after starring in and writing Rocky) this year for his portrayal of aging boxer Rocky Balboa in Creed. But despite this honor, Stallone seriously considered boycotting the ceremony, according to Entertainment Weekly.
At this Monday's Oscars luncheon, in which all of the major nominees hobnob with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' board of governors, most of those in attendance avoided controversy — despite the presence of #OscarsSoWhite protestors outside their doors — but Stallone dove in head-first. "I remember I spoke with [Creed director] Ryan Coogler when this happened. I said, 'Ryan how do you want to handle this? Because I really believe you are responsible for me being here,' the actor told the assembled guests. He gave props to his co-star as well: "Michael [B.] Jordan, every time I looked in his eyes as an actor, I said, he was making me better. I think he should’ve been given a lot more respect and attention."
Ultimately, Stallone let the decision of whether or not to attend rest with his director: "I said, 'If you want me to go, I’ll go. If you don’t, I won’t.' He said, 'No, I want you to go.' That’s the kind of guy he is. He wants us to go and represent the film." Stallone also gave credit where credit was due, complimenting the Academy for addressing the issue head-on by implementing changes only days after the nominations were announced. "Certainly, there is a universal law of existence. You either adapt or cease to exist. Adaptation and evolving were definitely necessary."
For Stallone, the controversy is likely felt more keenly than it is for Ruffalo, considering his film is one that was notoriously on the receiving end of the #OscarsSoWhite snubs this year. Stallone, the white supporting actor, was Creed's sole nominee — over its black director, its black writer, and its black star. Likewise, Straight Outta Compton's five white screenwriters earned that film's sole nomination over its black director and black stars. Spotlight and its all-white cast, on the other hand, earned six nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, and is widely considered a frontrunner to win the top prize this year.
Of course, it's probably for the best that Stallone ultimately decided to attend the ceremony, given that he's far and away the favorite in the Best Supporting Actor category. It would've been a bit awkward if his name had been called and he hadn't even been there to accept the trophy. However, he wouldn't exactly have been in bad company: other actors who have boycotted the Oscars on years that they won include George C. Scott (Best Actor 1970, Patton) and Marlon Brando (Best Actor 1972, The Godfather). While Brando famously sent Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse the award on his behave, citing grievances against Hollywood's treatment of Native Americans, Scott's boycott was less politically motivated. He complained that the Oscars were nothing more than a "two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons" and accused the ceremony of being "offensive, barbarous, and innately corrupt."
In his fight for the Oscar, Stallone is facing off against Ruffalo, Christian Bale (The Big Short), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), and Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies). Not in their midst? Beasts Of No Nation's Idris Elba, whose snub in this category is pretty much singlehandedly responsible for the whitewashed acting fields. But perhaps Stallone should be thankful that Elba is missing from the lineup: the Beasts star just took home the SAG Award in the same category — the first time in history an actor has won a SAG Award without a corresponding Oscar nomination. (Elba actually took home two trophies that night, including a Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries for Luther.) If the Oscars hadn't snubbed Elba, then Stallone might be facing some fierce competition right about now.
The 88th annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 28. Tune in to the ceremony on ABC to find out who shows up, who boycotts — and whether or not Stallone will finally win an Oscar.