During a recent interview on the PBS series “Firing Line”, veteran actor Richard Dreyfuss shared his strong opposition towards the new diversity guidelines put forth by the Academy Awards. The new rules, announced in 2020, state that from 2024 onwards, films must meet certain representation criteria to qualify for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

According to the guidelines, films must meet at least two out of four benchmarks, which evaluate whether lead actors come from underrepresented groups, or if at least 30% of the cast and crew come from these groups.

Dreyfuss expressed his discontent with these guidelines during the interview, stating that they make him feel nauseous. He believes that film is an art form, and that artists should not be required to adhere to the latest definition of morality.

He also expressed the view that no particular group in society should be catered to in this way. In addition, he cited the example of Laurence Olivier, who played the role of Othello in blackface in the 1965 film adaptation of the Shakespearean play. Dreyfuss praised Olivier’s performance, saying that he played the role brilliantly.

Dreyfuss also questioned whether he or any other non-Black actor would be allowed to play a Black character in the future. He further asked if a non-Jewish actor would be prohibited from playing the role of Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice”. He argued that these restrictions on artistic expression were unnecessary and patronizing.

During the interview, the host, Margaret Hoover, pushed back, asking whether there is a difference between representation and the case of blackface, given the history of slavery and the sensitivity around Black racism. Dreyfuss argued that there should not be such a difference, saying that this approach is patronizing and implies that people are too fragile to handle potentially offensive material.

In summary, Dreyfuss strongly opposes the Academy Awards’ new diversity guidelines, arguing that film is an art form that should not be restricted by moralistic concerns. He believes that artistic expression should not be limited based on race or ethnicity, and that people should not be shielded from potentially offensive material.