March 18, 2002 11:26 AM

The criticism often leveled at biopics is that they stray from the truth. In the case of Ron Howard’s Oscar hopeful “A Beautiful Mind,” the murmurs — that some of the seamier details about the movie’s subject, schizophrenic mathematician and Princeton professor John Nash, were glossed over in the movie — have turned into a dull roar in recent weeks, as the Academy Awards approach. The controversy finally proved troubling enough for the real-life Nash, 73, to face the cameras of “60 Minutes,” which aired an interview with him Sunday night. Nash and his wife, Alicia, faced several allegations, including that he was gay and anti-Semetic. Nash said he made the anti-Semetic remarks during a bout with schizophrenia. “I did have strange ideas during certain periods of time,” Nash said on the news magazine show. “It’s really my subconscious talking. It was really that. I know that now.” Another widely reported accusation, that Nash had an affair during his marriage, is also false, Nash biographer Sylvia Nasar told the L.A. Times. She said the relationship that led to the birth of Nash’s first son was over by the time he married Alicia Larde (played by Jennifer Connelly in the movie). In the “60 Minutes” interview, Nash also denied being homosexual but refused to discuss that subject further (in the film, Russell Crowe, as Nash, is shown exchanging long glances with handsome men). Nash said only, “I’ve learned that it’s better that I don’t talk about it.” Alicia backed him up. “I’ve known him since I was 20 and that’s just not true,” she said. “I should know.” Howard blamed the criticism on Oscar competition. “If there’s an attack strategy, that’s an impolitic tool,” he told the Associated Press. “It’s not about reminding people of your virtues, it’s about undermining the other candidate’s credibility. That’s a shame.”

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