×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

On the double-bubble

Thesps with multiple roles face tough choices

NEW YORK — Miramax has altered its campaign plans to avoid a battle of dueling Patricia Clarksons.

The thesp will be pushed for best actress — not in the supporting stakes as was originally planned — in Miramax’s “The Station Agent” and as supporting actress for United Artists’ “Pieces of April.”

The respective distribs and Clarkson’s reps worried that two bids might cancel each other if she were touted as supporting actress in both ensemble pieces.

The dilemma of where to position Clarkson in the awards races is one of several conflicts this year and the latest episode in the perpetual debate surrounding the candidacy of actors with multiple roles.

Focus Features will push Scarlett Johansson in the supporting actress race for “Lost in Translation” despite her having virtually equal screen time with Bill Murray, who is running on a best actor ticket. Lions Gate is angling for best actress recognition for Johansson in “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”

“Clearly she’s always going to be the lead in ‘Pearl Earring,’ given that she’s the title character,” said Focus Features president of marketing David Brooks. “But we wanted to give her the chance to be recognized for our movie, too, because we think she’s amazing in it.”

However, despite the certainty of being honored for only one film, Sean Penn has agreed to compete against himself in the actor stakes for Warner’s “Mystic River” and Focus’ “21 Grams,” both indisputably leading roles.

“There was a lot of discussion on that one, as there is in any category, and those discussions were in concert with Sean Penn’s people,” Brooks said. “But given that his character opens and closes ’21 Grams’ and is such a key figure, it only made sense to put him in the lead category. You let the chips fall where they will.”

In the early days of Oscars, there were a few cases of an actor and actress scoring two nominations in one category (George Arliss, Norma Shearer). Since then, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has since introduced a rule stipulating that no thesp can be nominated twice in any of the four acting categories (lead and supporting actor and actress) in one year.

Double noms are allowed in other categories, including writer, composer and director. For example, Steven Soderbergh competed against himself in the helming category for two films from 2001, “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic,” and won for the latter.

The Academy leaves the choice of actors and categories up to the distributors, producers and thesps. But ultimately, the final decision rests with Oscar voters — a choice implicit in the line “for your consideration.”

In the case of “The Station Agent,” Clarkson is onscreen for roughly one-third of the running time, so Miramax agreed to push for best actress consideration.

“Patricia is fully committed to supporting both of these films, so this move seemed to make the most sense for everybody involved,” said senior Miramax publicity exec Cynthia Swartz. “While our initial inclination was for her to be considered in the supporting category, after discussing it with her, we agreed to include her as best actress.”

“Every year presents these dilemmas,” United Artists president Bingham Ray said. “It’s rare and refreshing that at the heart of this matter is the concern, commitment and passion of both companies for working with talented people.”

Miramax also faced decisions this year about Nicole Kidman, for whom the company is mounting a best actress campaign for “Cold Mountain” and supporting actress for “The Human Stain.” Two years ago, Kidman was under consideration as best actress for two films, “Moulin Rouge” and “The Others,” scoring an Oscar nom for the Baz Luhrmann musical.

Last year, to avoid competing with her leading role in “Far From Heaven,” Julianne Moore was positioned for supporting actress for “The Hours” despite having more screen time than Kidman, who was positioned for lead actress in the same film (and won). Moore received noms for both pics.

And for “Chicago,” Catherine Zeta-Jones was nominated for a Golden Globe as leading actress but as a supporting thesp in the Oscar race, which she eventually won.

Talent handlers are often nervous about votes being diluted by multiple candidacy. But nine actors have scored two Oscar noms in one year by earning lead and supporting noms.

Fay Bainter was first to appear twice in the nominations in 1938 with “White Banners” and “Jezebel,” followed by Teresa Wright in 1942 (“Pride of the Yankees” and “Mrs. Miniver”), Jessica Lange in 1982 (“Frances” and “Tootsie”), Sigourney Weaver in 1988 (“Gorillas in the Mist” and “Working Girl”), Al Pacino in 1992 (“Scent of a Woman” and “Glengarry Glen Ross”), Holly Hunter in 1993 (“The Piano” and “The Firm”), Emma Thompson in 1993 (“The Remains of the Day” and “In the Name of the Father”) and Moore last year.

In most cases, the two noms generated one win. Only Weaver, Thompson and Moore went home empty-handed.

The most unusual double nominee is Barry Fitzgerald, who was nominated for both lead and supporting actor in 1944 for “Going My Way,” winning in the latter category. Academy regulations were subsequently changed to prohibit consideration of the same performance in both races.

(Timothy M. Gray in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

More Film

  • Three Identical Strangers

    Film News Roundup: 'Three Identical Strangers' Feature Adaptation Taps 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Writer

    In today’s film news roundup, “Three Identical Strangers” is moving ahead, Skeet Ulrich has been cast with Tom Hanks, the “Minions” sequel has been titled and “Vegas Dave” is getting a movie. MCCARTEN ATTACHED “Bohemian Rhapsody” screenwriter Anthony McCarten will write and produce the feature adaptation of the documentary “Three Identical Strangers.” Raw, Film4 and [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho, Choi Woo-shik. Director Bong

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Earns Five-Minute Cannes Ovation

    Just days after the announcement of the selection of “Parasite” for main competition at the Cannes Film Festival, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho warned members of the local press not to expect his film to win the Palme d’Or. He also suggested that the film was “hyper local” and possibly difficult for foreign audiences to [...]

  • 'Parasite' Review: A Brilliant, Bleak Bong

    Cannes Film Review: 'Parasite'

    A laugh turns into a snarl which gets stuck in the throat like a sob — or an arrow through the neck — in Bong Joon-ho’s latest wild, wild ride, “Parasite.” On paper, that might not sound so very different from the experience of watching Bong’s “Snowpiercer,” “Memories of Murder” “The Host” or “Okja.” The [...]

  • 'Maradona' Director Asif Kapadia Talks About

    'Diego Maradona' Director Asif Kapadia Talks About His Cannes Doc

    Global sports icon and lauded soccer player Diego Maradona’s dramatic life intrigued Oscar and BAFTA winner director Asif Kapadia (“Amy,” “Senna”) while he was still in film school. “It had an incredibly strong backstory and extremes of good and dark,” he recalls. Fast-forward to more than 20 years later as his feature documentary, “Diego Maradona” [...]

  • the long walk

    Stephen King's 'The Long Walk' Film Taps 'Scary Stories to Tell' Director

    New Line has tapped André Øvredal to direct the feature adaptation of Stephen King’s dystopian thriller “The Long Walk.” Øvredal’s credits include mystery thriller “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” and the upcoming horror film “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro and releasing on Aug. 9. James Vanderbilt [...]

  • Central Partnership Inks Multiple Deals on

    Cannes: Central Partnership Inks Multiple Deals on 'Billion' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Russia’s Central Partnership has closed several territory sales on Roman Prygunov’s comedy crime thriller “Billion.” Central Partnership has sold the movie to China (Jetsen Huashi Media), Turkey (ATV), France and French-speaking territories (Trade Media), Bulgaria (A Plus Film) and Baltics (GPI). The film centers on banker Matvey Levin, who goes to great lengths to avoid [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content