In an interview at the Academy Awards nominee luncheon in Beverly Hills on Monday, Sylvester Stallone said he had considered joining in the boycott of this year’s Oscars to protest its lack of diversity, but then changed his mind when he consulted the director of the film responsible for getting him there.
Stallone is up for his first-ever Oscar this year for his portrayal of Rocky Balboa in Creed (though Rocky won Best Picture in 1977), but the 69-year-old star told TheWrap that he consulted with Creed director Ryan Coogler before making a final decision as to whether to attend the ceremony.
“I remember I spoke with Ryan Coogler when this happened and I said, ‘How do you want to handle this? Because I feel like you are responsible for me being here,'” Stallone told the outlet. “I said, ‘If you don’t want me to go, I won’t.’ He said, ‘I want you to go.’ That’s the kind of guy he is. He wanted me to stand up for the film.”
Controversy over diversity has engulfed the Oscars and the organization that presents them, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, ever since the Academy unveiled this year’s nominations last month. For a second consecutive year, all 20 acting nominees are white.
The backlash came swiftly, as stars like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee pledged to boycott the ceremony, and the Rev. Al Sharpton called for a national “tune out” of the show in protest.
The lack of diversity also spurred the Academy to implement a dramatic overhaul of its voting rules and organizational structure in a move widely criticized by longtime Academy members as an overt effort to purge the organization’s older, white members of their votes.
Stallone praised the Academy’s diversity initiative in his statements to TheWrap: “There’s a universal law of existence — you either adapt or cease to exist,” he said.
The backlash over the #OscarsSoWhite controversy continued Monday, as demonstrators from the Los Angeles-based civil rights organization Project Islamic Hope protested outside the Academy’s annual nominee luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. The group called on “white Hollywood” to join the boycott effort, and urged those attending the ceremony to wear a black armband or ribbon to support diversity.
The 88th Academy Awards air Sunday, February 28th on ABC.