A Fish Called Wanda: Courtesy Everett Collection
March 14, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Why Oscar voters only recognize comedic actors in serious roles

Why do you think Oscar voters tend to recognize comedic actors only when they play serious roles (Jackie Gleason, Bill Murray), even if they do their best stuff in comedies? — Mike Quintero
Because comedy is supposed to be easy, juvenile, and highly subjective, while serious roles are supposed to be difficult, grown-up, and more objectively gauged, that’s why. (Not for nothing, but the renowned English composer Sir Arthur Sullivan was tormented by the knowledge that his delectable light operettas with W.S. Gilbert were held in higher regard than his more sober compositions. Then again, a lot of his serious stuff was really dull.) Of course, the truth is quite the opposite — a great comedic performance is worth a Nobel Prize, and there’s room for others to enjoy the kind of gold-plated honors Kevin Kline earned for A Fish Called Wanda. Now, how about this equivalent dilemma for attractive actresses: convincing those same high-minded Academy types that beauty needn’t be denied — by adding fat, wrinkles, bruises, a fake nose — to signal devotion to craft.

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