Sylvester Stallone is thrilled to be back as an Oscar contender for the first time in 40 years. But the veteran said on Monday (8 February) he had thought twice about attending the ceremony, because of the uproar over the scarcity of black talent in the contest.
Stallone, 69, is the only person from the boxing movie Creed to be nominated, even though the film stars African-American Michael B Jordan and was directed and written by Ryan Coogler, who is also black.
Stallone was last nominated for writing and performing the lead role in his 1976 movie Rocky, which went on to win the best picture Academy Award without honouring his individual efforts. He is considered a front runner for the supporting actor Oscar for reprising that role as boxer Rocky Balboa, now a trainer and mentor, in Creed.
Stallone said he owed his success to Jordan and Coogler, who were among the people of colour, including Latinos and Asian-Americans, perceived as snubbed when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees last month. When black actor Will Smith and director Spike Lee said they would not attend the 2016 ceremony in protest, Stallone said he asked Coogler what he should do.
"[Coogler] said, 'Just go there and try to represent the film... we feel you deserve it, but eventually things will change,'" said Stallone. "I said, 'If you want me to go I'll go. If you don't, I won't. And he said, 'No, I want you to go.' That's the kind of guy he is."
The Academy has since announced plans to double the numbers of women and people of colour in its ranks by 2020.