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Michael Caine on Oscars Boycott: ‘You Can’t Vote for an Actor Because He’s Black’

Michael Caine’s stance on the recent Oscars controversy is clear-cut: Actors should be awarded based on merit, period.

The British actor — who has been nominated for the Academy Awards six times, winning two — was asked to weigh in on the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominees during an interview with BBC Radio 4 on Friday, January 22.

Michael Caine
Angela Weiss/Getty Images

“Yeah, but there’s loads of black actors,” the 82-year-old said. “You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to vote for him. He’s not very good, but he’s black. I’ll vote for him.’ You have to give a good performance.”

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Caine, who failed to receive any nominations for his role in Youth, noted that he thought some of this year’s actors were, in fact, quite deserving, and seemed surprised to hear that they hadn’t been nominated.

“The one I — I don’t know whether Idris [Elba] got [nominated],” he said. “I saw Idris [in Beasts of No Nation], and I thought he was wonderful. I thought he would get [nominated]. Did he not get nominated?”

When Caine was informed by show host Nick Robinson that Elba had been snubbed, the Dark Knight Rises actor poked fun at himself.

“The great thing about it is you don’t have to go,” he said about not being nominated. “Especially the Oscars, 24 hours on an airplane and I’ve got to sit there clapping Leonardo DiCaprio. I love Leonardo, he played my son in a movie [2010’s Inception], but I’m too old to travel that far and sit in an audience and clap for someone else.”

The veteran actor’s advice to actors of color? “Be patient.”

“Of course it will come,” he said. “It took me years to get an Oscar, years.”

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Caine is the latest voice to join the likes of Charlotte Rampling, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Spike Lee in tackling the ongoing issue of diversity within Hollywood.

On Thursday, January 21, Ruffalo caused a stir online when he noted that he was thinking about boycotting the awards show in support of actors of color, but ultimately announced that he would be attending “in support of the victims of clergy Sexual Abuse and good journalism. #Spotlight.”

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