Clint Eastwood won’t be among the Hollywood elite speaking out in favor of the “Oscars So White” boycott that gained traction after Jada Pinkett Smith made a video calling for more diversity among Academy Award nominees.
In fact, according to a few brief thoughts on the Oscars boycott captured by TMZ, Clint doesn’t seem to be too invested either way. Eastwood does, however, seem to indicate that he’s on the side of those who have come out in favor of the chosen group of nominees this year, noting that it’s always going to be a stiffly competitive honor.
“I don’t know anything about it, all I know is there are thousands of people in the Academy, and the majority of them haven’t won Oscars. A lot of people are crying I guess.”
Clint himself has, of course, been honored by the Oscars ceremony several times over the course of his life. Although he was never nominated for the acting prize for his classic roles in films like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or For A Few Dollars More, the last few decades have seen him showered in praise by the Academy. Eastwood snagged the directing and Best Picture prize in both 1993 and 2005 for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby respectively. Clint also received an Irving G. Thalberg lifetime achievement award in 1995, as well as nods for Letters From Iwo Jima, Mystic River and American Sniper.
Before Eastwood even interjected on the “Oscars So White” controversy, some of his fans had already jumped to defend the filmmaker’s own role in making racially diverse movies. Conservative blog Washington Free Beacon published a column in praise of the multicolored casts that have made up Clint’s stories. Morgan Freeman, for instance, has had several key roles in Eastwood productions, and Forest Whitaker led a largely black cast in Bird, a 1988 biopic of jazz musician Charlie Parker. That record, argued the column, stands in sharp contrast with some of the actors who have spoken out in support of the Oscar boycott.
“You can talk about the importance of diversity, as liberals like George Clooney like to do. Or you can, you know, make something worthwhile that also happens to be diverse in nature without pandering, as the conservative Clint has done.”
Not everyone is quite as satisfied with the racial makeup of Eastwood’s offerings. In 2008, Spike Lee — who has also been one of the most vocal critics of this year’s all-white Oscar nominees — criticized Clint for failing to have black soldiers present in either Iwo Jima or Flags of Our Fathers. When speaking with The Guardian that same year, Eastwood had no tolerance for Spike’s views, saying that he sought to represent reality not diversify it.
“What are you going to do, you gonna tell a f***in’ story about that? Make it look like a commercial for an equal opportunity player? I’m not in that game. I’m playing it the way I read it historically, and that’s the way it is. When I do a picture and it’s 90% black, like Bird, I use 90% black people… a guy like that should shut his face.”
The “Oscars so white” boycott isn’t the first time Clint Eastwood has found himself at the center of race issues. Members of the Hmong ethnic group that were cast in Gran Torino later reported experiencing racism on set and being very unsatisfied with the way the minority was portrayed in the final cut, reported The Bottom Line. A 2012 speech at the Republican National Convention where Clint addressed an invisible President Obama was also poorly received by many who found it borderline racist.
[Image via Chris Jackson/Getty Images]