'Room' director wants Jacob Tremblay to receive honourary Oscar

TORONTO -- If you ask "Room" director Lenny Abrahamson, Jacob Tremblay gave one of the best performances of the year as a five-year-old who gradually learns he's spent his entire life in captivity.

See Full Article

The Vancouver-bred breakout is in nearly every scene of the Oscar-nominated Canada-Ireland co-production, and the nine-year-old has become a sought-after interview on various red carpets and will be a presenter at next week's Academy Awards.

Tremblay's co-star Brie Larson is considered a best actress front-runner for her turn as Jack's fiercely devoted mother, who was abducted as a teen and gave birth while locked in a garden shed.

Abrahamson says the Academy Awards should revive its bygone "juvenile award" for Tremblay, who was submitted for consideration in the best supporting actor category but failed to get a nod.

"He deserves massive credit and I do wish there was a category in which he could be recognized," Abrahamson said in a recent interview, noting that it can be difficult to measure a youngster's performance against that of an adult.

"If you have a young actor category then you can judge people against their peers in a different way."

There would seem to be no shortage of youngsters who could compete in such a category.

In addition to Tremblay, praise has poured in for teenager Abraham Attah as a child soldier in "Beasts of No Nation" and Milo Parker in "Mr. Holmes," while other Canadian standouts include Nick Serino in "Sleeping Giant" and Jack Fulton in "Closet Monster."

This year seems to have produced an exceptional number of remarkable performances from youngsters, says film producer Martin Katz, also chairman of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, which runs the Canadian Screen Awards.

He boasted of the academy's decision to hand Tremblay a best actor nomination for a Canadian Screen Award next month, a race that will pit the youngster against seasoned stage and screen veteran Christopher Plummer.

"There's only two people in the movie, effectively, who are clearly leads -- Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay," he says.

"For Jacob Tremblay to have been in a category of best supporting actor just because he's younger than everyone else, I think, would not have been an appropriate way to treat his performance. Which was outstanding."

If he wins, Tremblay would be the third child actor in five years to win an acting prize at Canada's version of the Oscars.

Sophie Nelisse won best supporting actress in 2012 at age 11 for her turn in "Monsieur Lazhar," while 16-year-old Rachel Mwanza won a best actress trophy the following year for "War Witch."

Of course, the Oscars have seen their fair share of kid contenders over the years.

At age nine, Quvenzhane Wallis competed for best actress in 2013 for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Abigail Breslin sought the best supporting actress title in 2007 for "Little Miss Sunshine" at age 10, and Saoirse Ronan, a best actress nominee this year for "Brooklyn," chased the best supporting actress crown in 2008 for "Atonement" at age 13.

Before them, best supporting actress winners included 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal for "Paper Moon" in 1974, 11-year-old Anna Paquin for "The Piano" in 1994, and 16-year-old Patty Duke for "The Miracle Worker" in 1963.

In the '30s and '40s, several child actors were given smaller-sized honorary Oscars, dubbed "Juvenile Awards." Since then, children and adults have been nominated side-by-side in competitive categories.

But Abrahamson suggested it might not be fair to compare a youngster to an adult.

"It's very hard for voters to know always how much is the child and how much was sort of engineered in by the filmmakers," he says from Los Angeles, noting he had to employ a few tricks to elicit what he needed for his Oscar-nominated work as director.

"It's a different way of working sometimes with children, especially on a film like 'Room' where the material was challenging and where it wouldn't be appropriate for Jake to always know what's really going on in the scene."

He notes Tremblay was just seven when they shot "Room," based on Irish-Canadian writer Emma Donoghue's novel of the same name.

"Seven-year-olds are distractable. Anybody who has kids knows how hard it is to wrangle a child -- to get them into the car, get them to do their homework, get them into their pyjamas -- so there's the whole business of bringing the child into a focused place and getting them to where they need to be to really inhabit the character."

Katz, whose producing credits include the films "Maps to the Stars" and "Cosmopolis" and the TV series "My Life As a Dog," said academy voters have several factors to consider when casting their ballot.

"You do have to evaluate whether you think this is a brilliant performance or whether it's someone playing, effectively, the one role they're capable in their lives of playing, or whether you can judge someone's performance as an actor based on a single incident rather than a lifetime of seeing them in multiple roles and realizing they have a great talent for presenting different characters," he says.

"But that, I think, is part of that task of the voter in any year."

Tremblay has already been recognized with a slew of prizes from the likes of the U.S. National Board of Review and the Critics' Choice Awards.

Abrahamson says he was impressed by the work the boy put into the role, and expects more great things from his burgeoning talent.

"I think the most satisfying thing was the end when he was more confident and the acting muscles were becoming more developed through practice," he says.

"There were times he would just play the scene beautifully -- start to finish, with no extra coaching, no stopping and starting, no lines thrown in by me from outside.

"And you're just watching the emerging of this amazing talent."

The Oscars take place Feb. 28.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Film on Armenian genocide stirs up controversy and a clash in online ratings

    Entertainment CBC News
    Repercussions from the Armenian genocide have been felt for more than 100 years, but with the release of a new historical drama, the conflict has taken an unexpected direction — into the world of online film ratings. Source
  • O'Reilly surprised by Fox exit, says truth will come out

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - Five days after being fired from his top-rated Fox News Channel perch, Bill O'Reilly used a podcast to express his dismay and vowed that "the truth will come out." "I am sad that I'm not on television anymore," he said in an episode Monday of his personal website's "No Spin News" podcast, available only to subscribers after this week's free window. Source
  • Bill O'Reilly saddened, surprised by Fox News exit, says truth will come out

    Entertainment CBC News
    Five days after being fired from his top-rated Fox News Channel perch, Bill O'Reilly used a podcast to express his dismay and vowed that "the truth will come out." "I am sad that I'm not on television anymore," he said in an episode Monday of his personal website's No Spin News podcast, available only to subscribers after this week's free window. Source
  • 'I am sad that I'm not on television anymore': Bill O'Reilly breaks silence on Fox News exit

    Entertainment CBC News
    Five days after being fired from his top-rated Fox News Channel perch, Bill O'Reilly used a podcast to express his dismay and vowed that "the truth will come out." "I am sad that I'm not on television anymore," he said in an episode Monday of his personal website's No Spin News podcast, available only to subscribers after this week's free window. Source
  • Elton John recovering from 'potentially deadly' bacterial infection

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Elton John has been hospitalized with an illness that has forced him to scrap a series of Las Vegas shows. Reports suggested the Rocket Man singer was battling poor health following a recent medical procedure and needed time to rest up, but now it appears the situation is much worse. Source
  • 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' review: Marvel's cosmic heroes hit all the right notes again [Photos] [

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    When it opened in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy had everything to gain and not much to lose. A ragtag bunch of space misfits that featured rapid-fire wisecracks, a talking raccoon and a tree that uttered the same three words, “I am Groot,” served as Marvel’s first foray into characters that weren’t Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or Hulk. Source
  • Maud Lewis painting found in thrift store bin surpasses $125,000

    Entertainment CTV News
    A painting by Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis, who friends say eschewed financial success in her lifetime, is setting price records 50 years after her death. Her artwork "Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen, Bay View, N.S. Source
  • Vera Farmiga's sister cast in 'The Conjuring' spinoff

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress Taissa Farmiga is joining her sister Vera in The Conjuring supernatural horror franchise after landing the titular role in upcoming spinoff The Nun. The American Horror Story star, 22, will feature alongside Demian Bichir in the new movie, which is based on the demonic nun Valak, who came to life from a painting in The Conjuring 2 and attacked Vera Farmiga’s character, real-life paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren. Source
  • Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe' almost sounded very different

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Carly Rae Jepsen has her songwriting partner to thank for her megahit Call Me Maybe, because he persuaded her not to dump her “filler” lyrics to the song. The 2011 hit’s catchy hook has just topped Billboard’s list of 100 Greatest Choruses of the 21st Century, and the Canadian singer admits she had no idea the tune she and Tavish Crowe wrote in her bedroom would be such a big smash. Source
  • Gay, Halifax-trained violinist looks for home in North America

    Entertainment CTV News
    HALIFAX - A Dalhousie-trained violinist who came out as gay in a widely circulated YouTube video says he hopes to stay in North America for fear of persecution if he returns to his Russian homeland. Source