Richard Dreyfuss has slammed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' new diversity requirements.
The Jaws actor did not mince words when asked to share his thoughts on the inclusion standards for Best Picture nominees set to go into effect in 2024, including the rule that a percentage of actors and crew must be from underrepresented communities.
"They make me vomit," Dreyfuss said of the requirements in an interview on the latest episode of PBS' Firing Line With Margaret Hoover.
"This is an art form," he continued. "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. And what are we risking? Are we really risking hurting people's feelings? You can't legislate that."
Mark Von Holden/Variety via Getty Richard Dreyfuss
"You have to let life be life," Dreyfuss added. "I'm sorry, I don't think there is a minority or majority in the country that has to be catered to like that."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced four new diversity and inclusion standards for Best Picture eligibility in 2020, stipulating that a film must meet two out of the four criteria, which focus on onscreen representation, themes and narrative; the creative leadership and project team; industry access and opportunities; and audience development.
Dreyfuss went on to praise Laurence Olivier's performance in 1965's Othello, in which the British actor played the Shakespeare character in blackface. "Laurence Olivier was the last white actor to play Othello," Dreyfuss said, "and he played a Black man brilliantly. Am I being told that I will never have a chance to play a Black man? Is someone else being told that if they're not Jewish, they shouldn't play [in] The Merchant of Venice? Are we crazy?"
He continued, "Do we not know that art is art? This is so patronizing. It's so thoughtless and treating people like children."
Dreyfuss is best known for his roles on Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Stand by Me, American Graffiti, and Mr. Holland's Opus. He won an Academy Award in 1978 for his performance in The Goodbye Girl. The actor previously made headlines when a former colleague accused him of sexual harassment in the 1980s, allegations that Dreyfuss "emphatically" denied.
Watch Dreyfuss' interview above.
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