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“It is a pity the young Pi was not nominated There’s not much you can do. He’s an Indian actor and nobody knows him so he was easily overlooked.

With peer voting, people will vote for their friends or based on their impressions. He’s a newcomer and we often said he had never acted before—that’s a disadvantage to getting nominated. But I do think his performance was the purest performance.”

By

Taiwanese director Ang Lee noting Hollywood’s tendency to overlook Asian actors to a Chinese radio station.   Ang Lee was disappointed that Suraj Sharma was not nominated for Best Actor for his performance in The Life of Pi.  Lee added that he felt Irfan Khan should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and that Zhang Ziyi was not nominated either for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, nor were any actors nominated for Slumdog Millionaire.

What’s a guy gotta do to get an Oscar?  Here’s some trivia about Sharma’s work on the film, from FirstPost.com.

  • Sharma beat out 4,000 other applicants (Ang Lee decided from the start the role would not be whitewashed.)
  • Sharma had never acted prior to this so Ang Lee assigned him a pile of homework and made him act scenes from Teneesse Williams and other playwrights just for practice.
  • Sharma didn’t know how to swim when he was cast for the role.  When he first started out he could only hold his breath for 14 seconds.  In the end he was able to go for one minute and a half.
  • Sharma spent most of the movie filming in a pool emoting in front of a blue screen to an invisible tiger.
  • Sharma lost 20% of his body weight for the role, eating a diet that mostly consisted of tuna fish, just like his character, so his ribs would show.
  • Sharma cut himself up frequently while working on the boat and used those injuries in his acting.  He would allow himself to get flipped along with the boat.
  • The production was banned from speaking the Sharma.  Ang Lee and Sharma agreed that he would not to talk to other people for almost two months so he would understand what isolation was like.

1.   This kid is badass.

2.  When white actors like Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio do stuff like lose 20% of their body weight or cut themselves and keep acting everyone cheers uproariously.

3. It is weirdly dismissive when films about characters of color get nominated but their actors do not.  Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Last Emperor, etc.

4.   As FirstPost points out, a lot of the Oscar snubbed actors that people are talking about like Leonardo DiCaprio have plenty of other opportunities to star in other big movies.   When is the next big project for an actor of South Asian descent coming up?

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