Oscar Politics: Dern, Bruce in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska

Bruce Dern aims at a Best Actor nomination for his performance as Woody in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, not for the Supporting Actor category. He told the Hollywood Reporter at the Telluride Film Festival, “If I go supporting, I’m a whore.”

Payne’s new film, which Paramount will release November 22, stars Dern and Will Forte as a father and son on a cross-country road trip.

Dern won the best actor award at this May’s Cannes Film Festival, some Oscar experts argue that if he wants to maximize his chances to win an Oscar, he should position himself in the best supporting actor rather than the more competitive best actor prize. Quite admirably, the actor, who is 77 and was (first and last) nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor in Coming Home in 1978, won’t listen.

Dern said after a screening of Nebraska on Friday: “The story is about who Woody is and where he’s going. It’s probably 50-50 screen time with Will Forte, but Woody is a leading role. If I go supporting, I’m a whore. Because I never came to Hollywood to win an award. I came to do good movies. If I go supporting, it’s embarrassing to the Academy because it looks like I’m trying to sneak in somehow so I can eat all those chicken and peas dinners. I’d rather go the right way than backdoor my way into a supporting because of my age or whatever.”

Dern added, “I would be thrilled if I was nominated, and to have a nomination is the win.” Acknowledging his director and cast, he said, “Alexander gave me great teammates. We’re all supporting each other in this movie. I hope Nebraska gets celebrated by people who like movies.”