Academy Award-nominee Bradley Cooper reflected upon how “utterly meaningless” every Hollywood award season feels, creating an atmosphere rife with vanity and ego over creativity and artistic meritocracy.
Speaking with “Hamilton” actor Anthony Ramos for a discussion published by Interview magazine at the end of August, the acting pair discussed how the award season elevates actors above the rest of the people who made the movie.
“It’s funny, you hit awards season and it can be easy for us to make it about individual people,” Ramos said. “But on set, you have your call sheet, and even though you have your leads, it’s a team effort. The grips, the director of photography — that movie is not happening without them. Everyone is the star of that movie.”
“For whatever reason, we choose to single people out at a certain time of year,” Ramos continued. “And if you’re ever asked to be a part of any of those events, it can be very easy for you, meaning me, to think, ‘It’s about me. I’m the only one here from my cast, so it’s only me.’ But what we forget is that we’re a representation of the story that those 150 to 200 people told together. We’re like a walking flag.”
Cooper said that the award season itself is set up to foster the kind of mentality that elevates vanity and ego over creativity, adding that the sacrifice for creating art is not done in the service of getting an award.
“That awards season stuff is a real test. It’s set up to foster that mentality. It’s quite a thing to work through, and it’s completely devoid of artistic creation,” said Cooper. “It’s not why you sacrifice everything to create art, and yet you spend so much time being a part of it if you’re, in quotes, ‘lucky enough to be a part of it.’ It’s ultimately a great thing because it really does make you face ego, vanity, and insecurity. It’s very interesting and utterly meaningless.”
In its coverage of the discussion between Cooper and Ramos, IndieWire notes that Cooper’s discontent with Hollywood award season began in 2019 after he did not land an Oscar nomination for Best Director with “A Star Is Born.”
“He said the awards circuit tricked him into thinking the snub meant he did not do his job on the movie,” reported the outlet. “This realization left Cooper ’embarrassed’ and proved to him that ‘even if I got the nomination, it should not give me any sense of whether I did my job or not.'”
“Even if I got the nomination, it should not give me any sense of whether I did my job or not,” Cooper said. “That’s the trick, to make something that you believe in.”