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The Oscars are the most celebrated awards show in Hollywood, and they set the conversation about what’s great in movies.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to go, or even be in the running to win one. In the 90-year history of the ceremony, some of Hollywood’s finest haven’t been there to accept their awards or nominations, and some have flat-out rejected the envied award itself.
Weirdly, Leonardo DiCaprio never boycotted the ceremony in protest of his many losses, but it looks like that paid off in the end. He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore – and neither do we.
Here are some actors and filmmakers who’ve skipped (or rejected) the Oscars:
Knowing he was a shoe-in to win best actor for his role as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather,” Brando boycotted the Oscars in 1973. In his place, he had Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather attend. She went onstage to accept his award, and when she read Brando’s speech about the mistreatment of Native Americans in film, she got booed.
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The director didn’t attend the 2003 ceremony that awarded him a statue for best director for his work on “The Pianist.” But even if he tried, he likely wouldn’t have made it, since he is still a fugitive in the US in a conviction for unlawful sex. Harrison Ford accepted the award on his behalf.
Michael Caine wasn’t around to accept his first Oscar win for best supporting actor in “Hannah and Her Sisters,” because he was busy filming “Jaws: The Revenge,” a movie with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Caine learned his lesson, and showed up in 2000 to accept his deserved win for a supporting role in “The Cider House Rules.”
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Taylor’s then-husband Richard Burton (also nominated for the same film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”) convinced the actress to skip the 1966 ceremony with him. Burton had already lost four times, and was afraid of losing. Taylor won best actress, but her failure to provide a statement thanking the Academy didn’t do her any favors.
The writer and filmmaker never attends award ceremonies – not even the 1978 Oscars when he won best actor, best original screenplay, and best picture for “Annie Hall.” But he did attend the ceremony in 2002 to introduce films that had been made in New York to honor the city following the September 11 attacks.
Allen has said, “The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t.” Fair enough.
After six acting nominations and two honorary Oscars, Newman finally got a win for “The Color of Money” in 1987. But he wasn’t there to accept it, telling the Associated Press, “It’s like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents, and you say, ‘I’m terribly sorry. I’m tired.'”
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With four wins, Hepburn still holds the record for the most Oscars for any actor – though Meryl Streep is getting close to the tie. Hepburn never showed up to the ceremonies to accept any of her Oscars onstage, though she didn’t reject the awards themselves. Hepburn made her first appearance at the 1974 Academy Awards when she presented the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, saying, “I’m living proof that a person can wait 41 years to be unselfish.”
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The mysterious British graffiti artist values his anonymity. In 2011 his debut film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” was nominated for best documentary. But Bansky was told he couldn’t attend the ceremony in a mask.
Academy executive Bruce Davis told Entertainment Weekly, “The fun but disquieting scenario is that if the film wins and five guys in monkey masks come to the stage all saying, ‘I’m Banksy,’ who the hell do we give it to?” Turns out it wouldn’t have been a problem, since the film lost to “Inside Job.”
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Brady – not to be confused with Alice from “The Brady Bunch” – won best supporting actress for her role in “In Old Chicago” at the 1937 ceremony. Since Brady wasn’t there, a man came onstage and accepted the plaque on her behalf (supporting actors didn’t get a statue until 1944). Turns out the man was an impostor, and actually stole the plaque. He was never found and neither was the plaque, but the Academy gave Brady a replacement.
George C. Scott
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Scott declined his best actor nomination for “Patton” in 1970, and had the decency to let the Academy know that he would refuse the award if he won. He won anyway, and reportedly called the Oscars a “two-hour meat parade.” Today, the American actor would be irate that the “meat parade” often exceeds four hours.
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In 2016, although not nominated for “Concussion,” Will Smith vowed not to attend the Oscars in protest of a lack of diversity. For the second year in a row, all 20 acting nominees were white. Smith told “Good Morning America,” “We’re part of this community. But at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say, ‘This is okay.'”
This wasn’t Smith’s first awards boycott: In 1989, he boycotted the Grammys when he learned that the announcement for best rap performance wouldn’t be televised.
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In 2003, O’Toole became the first person to decline an honorary Oscar. Over a 44-year period, he was nominated for best actor eight times and never won. He wrote a letter to the Academy that said, “I am still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright. Would the Academy pleasedefer=”defer”the honor until I am 80?”
After the Academy president informed him that Paul Newman and Henry Fonda won after receiving the honorary Oscar, O’Toole gave in and accepted the award at the 2003 ceremony.
The legendary director has never attended the Oscars. Before “The Thin Red Line” came out, the producers of the film gave a revealing interview to Vanity Fair with details about working with Malick, despite signing a confidentiality agreement before shooting.
Malick got his first best director nomination for the movie, but didn’t attend the ceremony because the producers who betrayed him were set to attend. They didn’t show, but “The Thin Red Line” didn’t win anything. Malick also wasn’t at the 2012 ceremony, where he was nominated but didn’t win for “The Tree of Life.”
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When Eminem won best original song for “Lose Yourself” in 2003, he wasn’t there to accept it. His cowriter Luis Resto accepted the award. Eminem was reportedly sleeping when his song won. In an interview, he said that he skipped the ceremony because he didn’t think he had a chance. He probably thought Bono would win. And Bono probably thought he would win, too.
Kubrick famously never won an Oscar for best director. But in 1969, he won best visual effects for “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Kubrick wasn’t there, so Diahann Carroll and Burt Lancaster accepted the award on his behalf, joking that Kubrick was on Mars scouting locations for a sequel.