Rosanna Arquette is the latest to voice support for Andrea Riseborough’s “To Leslie” performance after her surprise Oscar nomination sparked an inquiry into possible campaign violations.
“I supported this performance as an actor because it blew me away,” Arquette told TheWrap. “All other considerations aside, this is the singular performance as an Academy member.”
She continued, “It really was just about this performance. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
That sentiment echoes many of the A-listers who rallied for a Best Lead Actress nomination for Riseborough in the weeks leading up to voting. Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Laura Dern and Charlize Theron are among those participated in the “grassroots campaign,” hosting Q&As and posting on social media in lieu of studio backing for the film.
Said Arquette, “What [I’m] concerned about now is what is happening in the press around this performance involved with this film. Other artists not involved with this film [are] quite possibility forever damaging small films made outside the corporate machine ever being acknowledged or recognized.”
On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences launched an investigation into “campaign procedures around this year’s nominees,” noting that “changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication.”
The probe follows backlash after two actresses of color – Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis – failed to secure their expected nominations in spite of robust Oscar campaigns. (Women of color, including Chinonye Chukwu and Gina Prince-Bythewood, were also shut out of the directing and writing categories.)
Speculation about the legitimacy of the grassroots campaign could have consequences for more than just Riseborough, Arquette said: “The artists involved in ‘To Leslie’ are being harmed. Other artists who delivered great performances in other films are being hurt.“
Mary McCormack, who is married to the film’s director Michael Morris and campaigned heavily on Riseborough’s behalf, is “devastated,” said a source close to her.
“She’s the mother of 3[,] she’s an activist and an artist who supports diversity[,] who supported her husbands teeny film,” said the source, who noted that there was “no money” for a formal campaign, nor any “sneaky agenda here.”
“Actors saw the film” – it was “that simple,” the source continued. “[McCormack] is not feeling good. She’s being attacked brutally and it’s awful.”
Writer and producer Stephanie Koff advocated on McCormack’s behalf, emphasizing how much the film personally meant to her after a rough two years that she said “broke me” in an email shared with TheWrap.
“It’s just a movie. But it’s also art,” she wrote. “I know that it is so – that it’s art – because it reminded me of the one intangible that I needed, that I was too desperate to even figure out. Hope.”
The Academy has not issued a statement specific to the film or named any parties who may have violated campaigning rules. “To Leslie” heads back to theaters this weekend.