Award Season Makes Hollywood Actors Preachy

James Franco and Kim Novak are not proving to be good spokespeople for their awards-season causes.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The Oscars loom ever larger on the Hollywood horizon, which means it's time for various actors to begin strange campaigns and take out weird ads in Variety, because that's just what actors do around awards season. And oh how we wish they wouldn't.

Take Kim Novak, for example. You all remember Kim Novak, right? She was one of Hitchcock's blonde ice queens, famous for the dual roles she played in his Vertigo. She's in her late 70s now and lives on a farm in Oregon, safely out of the spotlight, raising her llamas in aged movie star peace. But then yesterday she had to go and jump into the hissing Hollywood stink-pit by taking out a full-page ad in Variety, railing against The Artist (of all gentle, Hollywood-loving movies to be mad at!) because it uses the famous love theme from Vertigo. She likened the experience to rape. Oof. The ad read, in part:

FROM THE DESK OF KIM NOVAK

I WANT TO REPORT A RAPE. I FEEL AS IF MY BODY—OR, AT LEAST MY BODY OF WORK—HAS BEEN VIOLATED BY THE MOVIE, “THE ARTIST.”

[...]

IT IS MORALLY WRONG FOR THE ARTISTRY OF OUR INDUSTRY TO USE AND ABUSE FAMOUS PIECES OF WORK TO GAIN ATTENTION AND APPLAUSE FOR OTHER THAN WHAT THEY WERE INTENDED. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO SAFEGUARD OUR SPECIAL BODIES OF WORK FOR POSTERITY, WITH THEIR ORIGINAL AND INDIVIDUAL IDENTITIES INTACT AND PROTECTED.

So, that's maybe a little over the top? One specific thing that Novak could have reasonably taken issue with is that, even though several other film scores were deemed ineligible for Oscar contention this year because they sampled from other sources, The Artist's score, primarily written by Ludovic Bource, was not one of those films. That could, we suppose, be seen as a tacit endorsement by the Academy of Novak's so-called "rape." But again that word, and really the dramatics of the whole thing, are a mite bit out of proportion. We suppose it is the god-given right of old Hollywood actresses to send wild missives to Variety from the confines of their remote ranches, it's a decades-old tradition, but this one seems particularly silly. We fear Ms. Novak may have succumbed to Oscar Fever.

Someone else suffering from some kind of something, though we think in his case it's more than just plain old awards season mania, is James Franco. The perpetually all-over-the-place unofficial Aderral spokesman has sent a long, oddly syntaxed letter to the Hollywood community, in which he implores his colleagues to recognize the acting work that Andy Serkis did in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, even though alls we see on screen is a monkey, not Andy Serkis. But of course Serkis has done this kind of amazing motion capture work before, specifically as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the titular beast in King Kong. Serkis is truly a gifted and inventive actor, and definitely deserving of some formal, institutional recognition, but aw man, Jimmy Francs. Didja have to write this dang thing yourself? Here is an example sampling:

There is no question that his character arc is much more dynamic and fascinating, it is the story line that takes the franchise’s central theme of culture/racial/species clash and turns it on it’s head by making the maligned apes the unequivocal heroes. We get to watch the fall of mankind and enjoy it because we root for the underdogs, the apes.

OK, really just the problem is the whole its/it's thing, but that's kind of a big problem! This is all Serious Impassioned Letter, and yet you're gonna go and get that simple grammatical thing wrong in the first paragraph? Sigh.

Typos aside, the entire letter reads awkwardly and does not, in any way, come across as having been written by someone with, what is it now, approx. 32 MFA degrees? Franco's crash-course tour through academia over the past few years does not seem to have done him any favors — don't get us wrong, he's a smart guy and we're glad that someone is speaking up for Serkis' overlooked work, but jeez Louise, everyone needs an editor. (Including us!) Would have bee nice if Franco had used one.

Really the problem is that Hollywood actors are rarely good politicians, even if those politics are relegated to the relatively simple worlds of movie scores and acting award nominations. For their parts, The Artist's composer has said that the inclusion of the Vertigo music was a loving homage that was not mean to steal, and Andy Serkis has simply said that he's flattered by Franco's "bold and honest" plea. So, OK. Both camps, whether publicly maligned or championed, handled the respective matters graciously and moderately. Crisis averted.

Now we just ask that all other Hollywood actors try to do the same until the awards season is over. After all guys, no one wants to wake up with a hangover only to remember that they did something embarrassing, right? Don't let Golden Award Madness do you or your dignity in.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.