Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in ‘Creed’ (Warner Bros.)
Sylvester Stallone is nominated for his first Academy Award in nearly 40 years, but the 69-year-old actor said he was willing to skip the Feb. 28 ceremony out of loyalty.
The Creed star, who’s a front-runner to win Best Supporting Actor for his performance as an aging Rocky Balboa, told reporters at the annual nominees luncheon on Monday that he considered not attending the Oscars in recognition of the Academy’s failure to nominate a single black artist in a major category. His absence would have been a pointed sign of support for Creed director Ryan Coogler and leading man Michael B. Jordan, who were snubbed by the Academy despite the stellar reviews and box-office championship their boxing sequel scored.
“I remember I spoke with Ryan Coogler when this [#OscarsSoWhite controversy] happened,” Stallone told reporters, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I said, ‘Ryan how do you want to handle this? Because I really believe you are responsible for me being here. Michael 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. [Coogler] goes, ‘Sly, just go there, try to represent the film, and we feel you deserve it. Eventually things will change.’”
Most nominees were asked about the controversy — dubbed #OscarsSoWhite online — and some, like The Danish Girl’s Eddie Redmayne, said they supported the tweaks to the voting rules recently put in place by the Academy in order to encourage more diversity. But there was little talk, at least on record, of boycotting Hollywood’s biggest night. No one in the room was willing to go as far as Spike Lee and Will Smith, who both announced that they wouldn’t attend the show this year. The Academy itself saw to that.
Related: ‘Creed 2′ Targets November 2017
"This year, we all know there’s an elephant in the room. I’ve asked the elephant to leave,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who has tried to tackle the race issue while keeping the Oscars on track, in her opening remarks. “Today is all about your incredible work.”
Stallone made sure at least a few moments were about Jordan and Coogler’s work, too.
Watch Sylvester Stallone consider how he’d recast his best-known roles: