Nearly a month after her unexpected Oscar nomination stirred controversy and speculation, English actor Andrea Riseborough has broken her silence.
In a cover story for the Hollywood Reporter published Wednesday, the “To Leslie” star reflected on her road to the 2023 Oscars — which was supported by several A-listers — and the academy’s resulting investigation into her awards campaign.
“I am grateful for the conversation because it must be had,” she told THR. “It has deeply impacted me.”
This year’s awards season has “been confusing” for first-time Oscar nominee Riseborough, 41, who has starred in films including “Amsterdam,” “Birdman” and “W.E.” In director Michael Morris’ low-budget “To Leslie,” Riseborough stars as an addict who is trying to break free from her demons.
“To Leslie” seemed to fly under the radar after its March 2022 premiere until word of Riseborough’s performance got around via social media campaigns and Hollywood circles.
Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston were among the stars who hosted “To Leslie” screenings — reportedly doing the work that distributor Momentum Pictures’ did not.
Riseborough said she and actor Mary McCormack, who is married to the director of “To Leslie,” also reached out to friends to watch the film and spread the word. The “Amsterdam” actor also said she appeared at screenings and Q&As where audience members would share personal connections with addiction.
When the Oscar nominations were revealed on Jan. 24, Riseborough said she was just as surprised as Hollywood.
“But the very realistic part of me that has been doing this for 20 years didn’t think this would happen,” she told THR. “I don’t think that you dare to allow yourself to imagine that that would happen to something that you shot in 19 days.”
Days after the shocking nomination that happened to shut out contenders Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”), the Motion Picture Academy launched an investigation into Riseborough’s campaign. On Jan. 31, the academy announced that Riseborough’s nomination will stand and the academy will work to refine and clarify the rules around awards campaigning.
“It not only makes sense that this conversation would be sparked, but it is necessary,” Riseborough told THR. “The film industry is abhorrently unequal in terms of opportunity. I’m mindful not to speak for the experience of other people because they are better placed to speak, and I want to listen.”
She said awards season campaigning has long been “acerbically exclusive” and that she’s “been working toward discovering” measures that “best encourage meritocracy.”
Riseborough said she’s grateful for the attention “To Leslie” has received, despite the controversy swirling around it.
“I suppose it’s a really bright ray of light. When any of us engage in anything, we want for that piece of work to be absorbed in some way,” she said. “You can’t control how people absorb it.”
(Los Angeles Times staff writers Nardine Saad and Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.)
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