Skip to content

Jack Nicholson Asked Fellow Stars to Boycott the Oscars Over This

Best Actor winner Adrien Brody shared how the conversation went down.

It remains to be seen whether any star will boycott the 2022 Academy Awards for any reason, but a certain group of nominees almost took such a stand at the 2003 ceremony. To refresh your memory: 2003 was the year that Adrien Brody won the award for Best Actor. He was 29 at the time and made history as the youngest actor to win in the category. He also made the moment memorable by kissing presenter Halle Berry—unprompted and uncomfortably—when he accepted the award. But, if Brody had gone along with what fellow nominee Jack Nicholson suggested to him, none of that would have taken place. According to a new interview with Brody, Nicholson proposed that they and the rest of the performers up for Best Actor boycott the Oscars to take a political stand. Brody shared how the conversation between the five men went down and explained why he, personally, decided to go to the award show. Read on to find out why Nicholson urged them to boycott and more.

RELATED: 6 Oscar Movies You Can Watch on Netflix This Weekend.

Nicholson invited the nominees to his home.

Jack Nicholson and Adrien Brody at an "About Schmidt" party in Cannes, France in 2002
George Pimentel/WireImage via Getty Images

In an interview with The Sunday Times (via Yahoo!), Brody said that Nicholson invited the Best Actor nominees to his house to discuss potentially boycotting the show since it was scheduled only four days after the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003.

The other nominees were Daniel Day-Lewis for Gangs of New York, Michael Caine for The Quiet American, and Nicolas Cage for Adaptation. Nicholson was nominated for his role in About Schmidt, while Brody was nominated—and later won—for The Pianist, about composer and Holocaust survivor Władysław Szpilman.

Brody said he had to attend.

Adrien Brody at amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS 2003 Gala
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

During the discussion, Brody told the group that he wanted to attend the award show.

"I said, 'I don't know about you guys, but I'm going,'" Brody told The Sunday Times. "I said, 'I kind of have to show up. My parents are coming. This doesn't come around too often. I know you guys are all winners. You can sit it out. But I can't.'"

Not only was Brody a first-time nominee, but he was the only one in the group who hadn't already won an Oscar. Nicholson had won two Best Actor awards (for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and As Good as It Gets), Cage and Day-Lewis had each won one at that point (for Leaving Las Vegas and My Left Foot, respectively), and Caine had won two awards for Best Supporting Actor (for Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules).

Everyone attended—even Nicholson.

Chris Cooper, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nicole Kidman, and Adrien Brody holding their Oscars at the 2003 show
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

The Best Actor nominees decided not to boycott the show. All of them attended, including Nicholson. That said, some celebrities skipped the show in protest of the Iraq War. Elizabeth Taylor, Will Smith, and Jim Carrey all decided not to attend, for example. And some stars who did attend made statements about the war in their acceptance speeches and in interviews. The show was also more subdued. There was no red carpet or the usual arrivals fanfare.

RELATED: For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Brody mentioned the war in his speech.

Adrien Brody at the 2003 Oscars
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

When Brody won the award for Best Actor, he talked about the war in his acceptance speech.

"I'm filled with a lot of sadness tonight because I'm accepting an award at such a strange time," he said, according to Yahoo!. "My experience of making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people at the times of war, and the repercussions of war. Whomever you believe in, if it's God or Allah, may he watch over you, and let us pray for a peaceful and swift resolution."

RELATED: This Is Why You Never Hear From Jack Nicholson Anymore.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under