Michael Caine on Oscars Diversity: ‘You Can’t Vote for an Actor Because He’s Black’

“It took me years to get an Oscar,” veteran British actor says

Michael Caine doesn’t think Academy voters should be nominating actors because of skin color – but he did expect Idris Elba to get an Oscars nomination for his performance in Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation.”

“There’s loads of black actors. You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black,” Caine said in an interview with BBC Radio 4. “You got to give a good performance, and I’m sure there were very good [performances].”

“The one I – I don’t know whether Idris got [nominated],” Caine said. “Because I saw Idris, and I thought he was wonderful. I thought he would get [nominated]. Did he not get nominated?”

When the host of the program told Caine that Elba was not nominated, the 82-year-old actor said, “Well, look at me. I won the [European Film Award for] best actor [for Youth’], and I got nominated for nothing else.”

The host then asked Caine what advice he would give to young black actors. “Be patient” he said. “Of course, it will come. Of course, it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar.”

Caine has been nominated for six Oscars over the course of his career. Of those nominations, he won twice: Best Supporting Actor in 1987 for “Hannah and Her Sisters;” and Best Supporting Actor again in 2000 for “Cider House Rules.”

On Monday, director Spike Lee announced that he would not attend what he called the “lilly-white Oscars,” while leading entertainment figures Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will Smith announced they will not be attending either.

AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, herself an African American, issued a statement on Martin Luther King Day promising changes within the group.

“I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” Isaacs said.