Oscar Roles: Mills, John

In 1969, when John Mills was watching the rushes of his scene with the lobsters in “Ryan's Daughter,” director David Lean asked him, “Johnny, have you ever won an Oscar” To which the actor said, “No, I haven't. Why” “Nothing,” said Lean, “I just wondered.”

Exactly a year later, Mills received a cable from the Academy congratulating him for his Supporting Actor nomination.

After the nomination, Mills recalled, “I did my best, because I wanted the damn thing so desperately, to persuade myself that I really didn't care, and that I had very little chance.” Mills knew that his part, the village's idiot, was small, and had not lines of dialogue.

One day, John Mills' daughter-actress Juliet called from Hollywood to tell him that he had been awarded the Golden Globe by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which was not televised back then). After that win, Mills was even more anxious, because he realized “that the recipient of the Golden Globe Award becomes a top tip for the Oscar.”

On the day of the Oscar show, he recalled, “the phone rang continually, reporters, gossip writers. Several of them told me that the rumors circulating around town made me favorite. The more of the stuff I listened to, the more convinced I was that I really didn't stand a chance.”

On Oscar Night, Mills tried “to look cool and totally relaxed,” but to no avail. He desperately wanted to win the Oscar, “knowing that at my age (sixty-three), it was in all probability my last chance of winning one.”

After “what seemed like an eternity, the moment arrived.” Maggie Smith, the award's presenter, opened the envelope and smiled broadly, “I knew before she made the announcement, I'd made it.