Michael Caine on Uproar Over Oscars' Lack of Diversity: 'You Can't Vote for an Actor Because He's Black'

Meanwhile, LL Cool J encourages African-American actors to not "get bitter, get better"

Photo: Casey Curry/Invision/AP

As the diversity debate embroiling the Academy Awards continues, Michael Caine is the latest star to speak out – and he’s not holding back.

For the second year in a row, no actors of color received Oscar nominations, a reality that has prompted some stars to boycott the show and examine the deeper issues surrounding race and the entertainment industry.

When asked to address the controversy during a BBC Radio 4 interview this week, Caine said, per The Hollywood Reporter: “There’s loads of black actors. You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You got to give a good performance, and I’m sure there were very good [performances].”

The 82-year-old Youth star – who has won two Oscars and been nominated four additional times – also offered advice to black actors eager for their chance at Oscar gold.

“Be patient. Of course, it will come. Of course, it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar,” said Caine, who won his first statuette for his supporting role in 1987’s Hannah and Her Sisters.

Caine also praised actor Idris Elba during the BBC interview, initially believing the fellow British actor garnered a nomination for Beasts of No Nation.

“The one I – I don’t know whether Idris got [nominated],” Caine said. “Because I saw Idris, and I thought he was wonderful. I thought he would get [nominated]. Did he not get nominated?”

When the interviewer confirmed Elba was not nominated, Caine added, “Well, look at me. I won the [European Film Award for] best actor for Youth, and I got nominated for nothing else.”

Caine’s comments come around the same time current Best Actress Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling raised eyebrows for telling French Radio network Europe 1 on Friday morning that the Oscars are “racist to whites” and speaking out against the possibility of a quota system to ensure diversity.

Her comments stand in contrast to other actors who have spoken out, including fellow nominee Mark Ruffalo, past winner George Clooney and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Grammys host LL Cool J has also added his voice to the debate. Speaking to the Associated Press Thursday after receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he said his advice to fellow African America actors is, “Don’t get bitter, get better.”

“Is there room for improvement? Yes,” he said. “But let’s just put the work in. And ultimately, if the work is good enough, and it’s great enough and there’s enough of it, the door gets kicked in.”

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