“I have no regard for that kind of ceremony.”
Receiving an Academy Award is one of the highest honors an actor can achieve in their career — but sometimes, these stars just don’t want the recognition. Despite earning accolades for their performances from their esteemed peers, quite a few actors have actually turned down the opportunity to walk across the Oscars stage. And for many, they’ve got a pretty good reason, too.
Whether it’s due to unfair policies, a general disdain for award shows, or the belief that they just weren’t going to win, these stars decided not to show up for the ceremony, and they’ve got no regrets.
Find out why these stars didn’t want their Oscars…
Marlon Brando accepted many Oscars throughout his career, but in 1973, he chose not to accept his award for Best Actor for his role in “The Godfather.” He refused to take the stage in protest of Hollywood’s often derogatory and racist portrayal of Native Americans in film. Instead, he sent Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather to attend the ceremony in his place. On stage, she read a lengthy statement from Marlon, condemning the entertainment industry for their mockery of Native Americans.
Marlon’s decision led the Academy to create a rule stating no future winners could send a proxy to accept their awards.
Paul Newman was nominated for multiple Oscars throughout his career but for decades, he never managed to take one home. When he finally won in 1987 for his role in “The Color of Money,” he was no longer interested in the whole thing and refused to show up.
“It’s like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents, and you say, ‘I’m terribly sorry. I’m tired,'” Paul said of his decision not to attend.
Woody Allen has been nominated for an Academy Award an incredible 24 times, but he’s never accepted his wins. In fact, he’s only attended the ceremony once, shortly after the September 11th attacks in order to introduce a group of films that had been made in New York.
“I have no regard for that kind of ceremony. I just don’t think they know what they’re doing. When you see who wins those things — or who doesn’t win them — you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is…I know it sounds terrible, but winning that Oscar for ‘Annie Hall’ didn’t mean anything to me,” Woody once said.
In 2003, Eminem was nominated in the Best Original Song category for “Lose Yourself” from his semi-autobiographical movie “8 Mile.” The musician was so sure he wasn’t going to win that he didn’t even bother showing up and was asleep at home when his name was announced.
“Back then, I never even thought that I had a chance to win, and we had just performed ‘Lose Yourself’ on the Grammys with the Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars, so we didn’t think it was a good idea. And also, back at that time, the younger me didn’t really feel like a show like that would understand me,” Eminem said in an interview with Variety.
Anthony Hopkins was living in Wales when he was nominated for Best Actor for his role in “The Father.” The actor chose not to attend the 2021 ceremony, which was understandable given the pandemic, but the Academy refused to let him give his acceptance speech from home. Instead, they wanted the then 83-year-old actor to travel to a designated spot to give his acceptance speech — which would have occurred in the middle of the night due to the time difference. Anthony turned them down and chose to later share his acceptance speech on Instagram.
Katharine Hepburn won four Oscars during her career but she only attended the ceremony once — and it wasn’t to accept an award! Katharine explained that to her, “prizes are nothing” and her “prize is [her] work.” When she actually did attend the event, it was to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to producer and friend Lawrence Weingarten.
“I’m living proof that a person can wait 41 years to be unselfish,” she said during her speech.
Elizabeth Taylor chose not to accept her Oscar for her role in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” but it wasn’t entirely her idea. At the time, Elizabeth was married to Richard Burton, who had often been snubbed by the Academy. The couple were both nominated at the 1966 but Richard reportedly did not want to attend just to suffer a fifth loss. Instead, he planned a trip to Paris and convinced Elizabeth to join him and not attend the show. At the time, Elizabeth explained her absence was due to Richard’s fear of flying but when she refused to issue a statement thanking the Academy for her win, it became obvious that her intentions were different.
Mysterious artist Banksy may not have actually won an Oscar but he refused to attend the ceremony when he was nominated. In 2011, his debut film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” received a nod for Best Documentary and when he asked to attend the ceremony wearing a mask to conceal his true identity, he was turned down. Academy executives said that masks would just make things too confusing.
“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?” executive Bruce Davis told Entertainment Weekly.
George C. Scott has declined his opportunity to take home an Oscar on multiple occasions. In 1961, the actor first told the Academy he was turning down his nomination after getting a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in “The Hustler.” He reportedly even told the Academy to “lose his number.” Then, in 1970, George declined his nomination for his role in “Patton” and said that he would refuse his Oscar if he won.
“I never wanted to be involved in that part of the business and just not my bag. I don’t think [there’s value]. I think it’s a detriment, as a matter of fact,” George once said.
John Gielgud had already won an Oscar in 1965 when he decided to turn down his 1982 win for his role in “Arthur.” While it isn’t completely clear why John didn’t accept his Best Supporting Actor award, he did later make it clear that he wasn’t a big fan of award shows. In Richard Mangan’s book “Gielgud’s Letter,” John described award shows as full of “mutual congratulation baloney.”
Roman Polanski refused to attend the Oscars in 2003 but it was more of a legal issue than anything else. At the time he was awarded for Best Director for his work on “The Pianist,” Roman was a fugitive in the US after a conviction for unlawful sex with a minor. Instead, presenter Harrison Ford accepted the award on his behalf.