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Jon Voight

Acad favorite brings depth to Cosell

OSCAR QUOTIENT

PROS: A three-time nom, he is always in high regard with voters.

CONS: Perf could be regarded as an impression.

Jon Voight recalls being interviewed by the late Howard Cosell. He doesn’t remember the exact circumstances, but the experience remains vivid.

“I remember seeing a lot of things in that interview,” Voight says. “I saw a sensitive human being, an extremely intelligent and professional man. He made a difference in the portrayal of the modern sports journalist.”

That sit-down with Cosell aided Voight in his performance as the legendary sports announcer in Michael Mann’s biopic “Ali.”

“He brought many unusual aspects to his work,” Voight says of Cosell, “like the interrogatory style in his interviews, which came from his legal background when he needed to get information from people. He was able to get people to respond to him in a spontaneous and candid way.”

Voight did not know Cosell well, but he has had a long friendship with Muhammad Ali. When Mann phoned to ask him about playing Cosell, Voight — who worked with Mann on “Heat” — was flattered and surprised.

“I probably responded like most people, that it was an unusual choice,” Voight says. “Yet I know Michael chooses people on where their talents lie, and not necessarily on their physical characteristics.”

To capture the essence of Cosell, Voight spent “at least six hours a day” in the makeup chair, but knowing the impact Cosell had on American culture, Voight says he was honored for the chance to play him

“Even if we disagreed with him, we still miss him.”

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