Oscars: Did Nick Nolte get Albert Brooks’ Academy Award nomination?

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: It might have been Oscar’s most-surprising snub. Albert Brooks, so incredible in “Drive,” left out of the Best Supporting Actor category. In his place: Five deserving men who will compete for the Oscar on Feb. 26. And I’m thrilled to see all of them in there.

Particularly Nick Nolte.

I’m on record as saying I loved “Warrior.” Gavin O’Connor’s film made my Top 10 for the year. I hoped enough Academy voters would watch their screeners, because the film deserved recognition in multiple categories. And while the film only scored one Oscar nomination, I’m glad it was Nolte … because he almost didn’t make it into the film at all.

Leading up to the Oscars, we’re going to revisit interviews we were lucky enough to log during the awards campaign. And this, posted below, finds “Warrior” director O’Connor telling me how he had to fight for Nolte – now an Oscar nominee – to even be part of his cast. And how he was rewarded.

Here’s Gavin O’Connor on “Warrior” and Nick Nolte:

HollywoodNews.com: Let’s talk about Nolte. Once you realized that you had him for the role, did you rewrite to his strengths?

Actually, it was almost the inverse of that. We wrote the movie for Nick. I wrote a film called “Pride & Glory” a few years before that Nick was supposed to be the dad in. We became very close. We spent a year together working on that character, and then he ended up having to had knee replacement surgery. So he had to leave right before I began shooting. But Nick and I remained friends. So when Anthony [Tambakis] and I wrote the script, we wrote that part for Nick.

So Nick was the first person to read the script when we finished it. I mean, I know Nick so well, and I knew that this was very sensitive subject matters, and we knew that we were walking a minefield with some things that could possibly detonate with regard to Nick’s own personal life. But that also was the dynamite that I was looking for to get a deep, visceral performance.

To be honest, the biggest problem was getting the studio to let Nick be in the movie.

HollywoodNews.com: What? You need to fight to get Nick Nolte in a movie?

Oh my God, you have no idea. It was unbelievable. And I would say to Nick, “Look, I promise you, you’re playing Paddy. Just sit tight. I have to go through the process.” They gave me cast lists with actors who were so wrong for the part. They have like these algorithms and these mathematical formulas for these actors. Some guy is worth XX amount of dollars in Uruguay, and all of a sudden, they want him in the movie. And I’d argue, “He’s so wrong for the part! It doesn’t even fit.” That’s a tertiary decision, who is right. The first thing they look at is, “What is he worth? What do they mean on a video box in Portugal?”

You would laugh if you saw some of the names that they actually, with a straight face, thought should play the dad.

HollywoodNews.com: So you didn’t want Daniel Radcliffe to play Tommy?

[Laughs] It honestly was that bad! It’s not easy. It’s really not easy. I just look at it as that you have to serve the movie. You are kneeling at the altar of this film, and any of these decisions that are wrong … you put the wrong guy in that part and you and I are not talking right now. It’s just a whole ‘nother movie. The whole movie falls apart.

HollywoodNews.com: The scene that convinced me that “Warrior” was more than a genre picture, that is was something special, was Nolte trying to see his granddaughter across the lawn. I was devastated.

Yeah. But that moment represents the overriding theme of the film, for me, which was one of forgiveness. That’s ultimately what the movie is about. What I was trying to go for there is that Brendan says, “I forgive you, but I just don’t trust you.” That’s a load of shit. If you forgive your dad, that door wouldn’t be closing on him, and he would be coming in for a cup of coffee.

I’ll tell you a great Nick story. In the fourth round of the film, when Brendan is pounding Tommy up against the cage and Tommy goes back to his corner, as Brendan’s going back to his corner, he sees the old man. There’s a moment where they see each other. It’s that moment of, “I’m sorry. I do forgive you.” It’s a loaded moment.

But that moment was never in the script. This is my point about Nolte, in that not only is he a great actor – and the man is genius – but just as a teammate, he’s amazing. We had wrapped Nick. He was done. Applause. Hugs. Cake. The whole thing. He flew back to California. We were shooting in Pittsburgh. And I’m shooting that scene, ,with Joel walking back to his corner, and I think, “Fuck, wait a minute, we totally need Nick. The moment with Brendan and his dad is now.” I grab my phone, call Nick – who had been home 5 days – and I say, “Nick, I need you to come back.” I told him it was one shot. I needed him for 15 minutes! You know what he said? “I’m there, man. Book my flight and I’m there for you.”

The man loves the craft. He believed in the cause. The guy got on a plane, flew all the way back, we set up the shot, did it, and he went back home. You just don’t get that. Some of these older guys, they just don’t do that. He didn’t get paid for the day. He just did it. Nick’s the best. And that crystallizes who Nick is as an artist. If Nick didn’t become a movie star, he’d be doing dinner theater in Long Beach right now. Because that’s who he is. He’s an actor.

Awards Alley brings you the best Oscar coverage. Click below to read our exclusive interviews with:
Harvey Weinstein
– The cast of “The Artist.”
Kenneth Branagh for “My Week With Marilyn.”
Bennett Miller talks “Moneyball.”
Sir Ben Kingsley and Chloe Grace Moretz for “Hugo.”
Tilda Swinton for “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”
David Fincher, Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for “The Help.”
Tate Taylor for “The Help.”
Woody Harrelson for “Rampart.”
Gavin O’Connor for “Warrior.”
Gary Oldman and Colin Firth for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”
Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody for “Young Adult.”
Steve McQueen for “Shame.”
Glenn Close for “Albert Nobbs.”
Seth Rogen and Will Reiser for “50/50.”

For complete Oscar and Film Festival coverage, visit our Awards Alley for the latest news items, reviews and interviews all season long.

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