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Stars speak out about wartime Oscars

Stars speak out about wartime Oscars. Even without the red carpet, some stars wonder if the awards gala is still appropriate

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Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek: Graham Whitby-Boot/AllStar/Globe Photos

Will Smith said he was so ”uncomfortable” about the prospect of attending the Oscars at the start of a war, even without the self-indulgent spectacle of red carpet arrivals, that he dropped out of his presenter role for this Sunday’s ceremony. Most other presenters and nominees are still planning to attend, but they may feel equally uncomfortable. ”The Oscars and the war will always be at odds,” directing and screenwriting nominee Pedro Almodóvar (”Talk to Her”) told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. ”Everyone feels very strange about it.”

”Any educated person knows perfectly well that no one is interested in the stinking Oscar when there is a war,” Salma Hayek told the Associated Press on Monday. Still, the ”Frida” star is a Best Actress nominee and a presenter, so she’s going.

”Y Tu Mamá También” screenwriting nominee Carlos Cuarón told the BBC this week, ”An Oscars ceremony is so frivolous under the shadow of this terrible war, and I honestly think the Academy should just cancel it. I’m not in the mood for celebrating.” However, he also plans to attend, if only to make an antiwar statement from the podium if he wins. (His brother and co-nominee, Alfonso Cuarón, told EW.com through a spokesperson that he’s not coming, as he’s busy in England shooting a little movie called ”Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”)

”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”’s Zhang Ziyi, who was invited to attend as the star of Oscar-nominated Chinese film ”Hero,” told China’s Beijing Youth Daily on Friday that she wouldn’t come. ”With war comes bloodshed and death,” she said. ”How can one go to an awards ceremony in a fancy evening gown and smile?”

Rachel Griffiths, a 1998 nominee for ”Hilary and Jackie,” is glad that the Academy has at least rolled up the red carpet. ”That’s not what the night is supposed to be about, a parade of who’s wearing what,” the ”Six Feet Under” star told syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith on Wednesday. ”If that’s all it has come to mean, then maybe it shouldn’t be telecast at all. For years, the show was not televised. It’s a night to honor actors who have achieved greatness in their craft.” (Actually, the ceremony has been broadcast, on TV since 1953 and on radio before that, 74 of its 75 years.) Jennifer Tilly, nominated in 1995 for ”Bullets Over Broadway,” disagreed, saying, ”Skipping the arrivals is not fair. If they are going to do it, they should do it right and not pretend there isn’t some frivolousness attached to it. It’s supposed to be a fun night, not only for the stars, but for the people at home.”

However, 1985 Oscar winner Angelica Huston feels no compunction about attending the show and looking glamorous. ”There is another faction that feels this is an inappropriate time to don jewels and sashay down the carpet,” she told the Los Angeles Times this week. ”But the Academy Awards has stayed blessedly neutral throughout the years, so I’m not worried about it.”

After all, says ”Bowling for Columbine”’s nominated director Michael Moore, that kind of excess is an American tradition. ”I’m definitely going,” he told the BBC this week. ”You can’t have anything more American than the Oscars — that’s why our boys are fighting and dying.”