Why Steven Spielberg Refuses to Read Oscars Winners’ Names at Rehearsal

Why Steven Spielberg Refuses to Read Oscars Winners Names at Rehearsal
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Steven Spielberg revealed he’s a little superstitious when it comes to the Oscars.

During the 96th annual Academy Awards’ rehearsal on Saturday, March 9, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Spielberg, 77, refused to name the pretend winner inside his envelope. While running through the presentation, Spielberg didn’t want to jinx any nominees — even after he was given the green light from a production member.

“No, because it’s bad luck," he said, per Entertainment Tonight. "It's bad luck."

Spielberg, who’s won three Academy Awards, earned a nomination for Best Picture at the 2024 Oscars for Maestro. (He shares the nomination with Bradley Cooper, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger.)

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The film was nominated for seven awards on Sunday, including Best Actor (Cooper) and Best Actress (Carey Mulligan). After the nominations were announced in January, Cooper, 49, shared his gratitude for the recognition of one of Hollywood’s biggest honors.

“We are all so grateful to be recognized along all of these incredible works of art this year. And the performances from every actor who I so admire,” Cooper said in a statement. “Thank you to Jamie, Alex & Nina Bernstein for allowing their parents’ story to be out there in the world and thank you to the Academy. We are very honored to be included.”

Why Steven Spielberg Refuses to Read Oscars Winners Names at Rehearsal
Steven Spielberg Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Maestro follows the complicated relationship between Leonard Bernstein, a famous American composer and his wife, Felicia Montealegre (Mulligan). Bernstein was the musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 1958 to 1969. He died of a heart attack the same month that he retired from conducting in October 1990.

The film has been in development for five years, with Spielberg originally directing. However, after Spielberg saw Cooper direct A Star Is Born, he decided that the actor was a better fit for the role. (He ultimately coproduced the movie with Cooper, Martin Scorsese, and others.)

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During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in January 2022, Cooper recalled the moment Spielberg informed him of his decision to have Cooper lead.

“I’ll never forget this. He came, we were sitting there and I’m showing him A Star Is Born and he’s all the way on the other side on the front row, it’s a pretty huge screen,” Cooper said. “He gets up and I’m like, ‘Oh he’s going to the bathroom now?’ and I was like, ‘That’s it, it’s over. If he’s going to the bathroom at this point in the movie … and he gets up, he walks over, and I’m putting my head down and the next thing I know I feel his face here and he says, because it’s loud, ‘You’re f—ing directing Maestro!”

The Oscars airs on ABC Sunday, March 10, at 7 p.m. ET.