On 29/3 in 1993 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles Jaye Davidson (pictured above) sat with fellow nominees including Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino to see who had won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
- Read on for reasons including which of Davidson’s fellow nominees took a shine to him
Davidson didn’t win that night but his film The Crying Game, which had been nominated half a dozen times, did win a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for its author Neil Jordan who joins Davidson (far right below) and co-stars Miranda Richardson and Stephen Rea here tonight at the 25th anniversary reunion.
Richardson teases that Hackman took rather a shine to the young actor who shot to fame playing the transgender Dil in the tale of an IRA assassin tasked to find the girlfriend of a soldier he kidnaps. ‘He was very sweet,’ Davidson now a model rather than actor, shoots back sweetly.
He seems genuinely surprised when asked by an audience member how he feels about being the first black British man to have been nominated for an Oscar. ‘It was a long time ago I have to say. Back then I didn’t believe there were enough roles for people like me – an openly gay black person, a double whammy.’
Davidson, who did go on to appear in US TV show Stargate, adds: ‘I thought I’d be scrabbling for the crumbs and didn’t believe there was a career for me and that’s fine. My life is good. It is what it is.’
Jordan and producer Stephen Woolley talk openly about the film’s shock reveal and the pressure to cast a woman in the role with a prosthetic penis.
Davidson was shocked by the film’s success. ‘I’d worked as a runner on the periphery of film with Derek Jarman and was spotted for this at a wrap party for Edward II. I didn’t think it would be a success. Maybe arthouse or straight-to-video.’
Woolley adds: ‘We all thought we were making a small budget film’ and Jordan chips in: ‘We were’.
It wasn’t a success in the UK initially not least perhaps because the IRA theme was still too raw. It was in the US where the explosion of interest happened first.
Davidson is asked whether under President Trump he thinks the US would see its like again? ‘I do. There are always interesting and intelligent people who will seek out material like this.’
Rea is asked about reactions to the infamous reveal. ‘Red-blooded Irishmen refused to believe me when I insisted Jaye was a guy. They couldn’t believe it wasn’t a prosthetic penis.’
Pet Shop Boys, who worked on the soundtrack with Boy George (see below), are picking up a lifetime achievement award across town tonight but composer Ann Dudley is here to take plaudits for the music.
Having watched the film again with the cast for probably the first time in a quarter of a century it’s difficult to overstate quite how groundbreaking it was at the time. That its six Oscar nominations elevated it from the arthouse circuit to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where it was victorious once, is no less surprising.
- Picture courtesy BFI. The BFI regularly runs events like these. Tickets
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