Adrien Brody Says Jack Nicholson Asked Best Actor Nominees to Boycott 2003 Oscars Over Iraq War

"I said, 'I don't know about you guys, but I'm going,' " said Adrien Brody, who won Best Actor that year for his role in 2002's The Pianist

Adrien Brody, Jack Nicholson
Adrien Brody (L); Jack Nicholson. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty; Kevin Winter/Getty

Adrien Brody wasn't missing the 75th Academy Awards — but at one point, he says, Jack Nicholson tried to rally him to boycott the ceremony amid the Iraq War, which had just begun at the time.

In a new interview with The Sunday Times, the 48-year-old actor said Nicholson had himself and their fellow Best Actor nominees Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine (all former winners, including Nicholson) over to his home ahead of the March 23, 2003, ceremony.

According to Brody, Nicholson, 84, spoke to the men about how they could respond to the war, which had broken out just days before the ceremony was set to take place, and called for a boycott.

"I said, 'I don't know about you guys, but I'm going,' " Brody told the Times with a laugh. "I said, 'I kind of have to show up. My parents are coming. This doesn't come around too often. I know you guys are all winners. You can sit it out. But I can't.' "

A rep for Nicholson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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Adrien Brody
Adrien Brody. Frank Micelotta/Getty

All five men ended up attending the ceremony that year, during which Brody became (and remains) the youngest actor to win in the category, at age 29.

During his acceptance speech, he made a point to reference the war, saying after giving thanks to his peers and colleagues, "I'm also filled with a lot of sadness tonight because I'm accepting an award at such a strange time."

"My experience of making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people at times of war, and the repercussions of war," Brody continued.

"Whomever you believe in, whether it's God or Allah, may he watch over you. And let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution," the actor added, leading the audience to give him a standing ovation.

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The 2003 Oscars went on after a decision to cancel red-carpet festivities ahead of the ceremony.

Said show producer Gil Cates in a press release obtained by CNN at the time, "The Academy is mindful that many of its celebrity guests would feel uncomfortable arriving at this year's awards at the beginning of a major war to face a business-as-usual phalanx of interviewers and photographers. Therefore arriving guests will not stop for interviews or photographs."

Nicholson was reportedly one of many celebrities to speak out against the war, including Heath Ledger, who would go on to posthumously win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2009.

"He's so subservient to [then-President George W. Bush], and [the U.S. is] sending 250,000 troops over there," Ledger said at the time of Australia's then-Prime Minister John Howard. "Why should we send our 2,000? It makes no difference."

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