'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

  • Tom Cruise reveals 'Top Gun 2' to start filming soon

    Entertainment CTV News
    SYDNEY, Australia - The Danger Zone may have gotten old and dusty, but Tom Cruise says he's about to fly back in. The 54-year-old actor says the long-discussed sequel to "Top Gun" is a sure thing and should start shooting soon. Source
  • Tributes pour in for 'James Bond' star Roger Moore [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    British actor Sir Roger Moore has died aged 89. The James Bond actor passed away in Switzerland on Tuesday following a short battle with cancer, his family announced on his official Twitter page. “It is with a heavy heart that we must announce our loving father, Sir Roger Moore, has passed away today in Switzerland after a short but brave battle with cancer. Source
  • Canadian band Broke Social Scene play Manchester show one day after attack

    Entertainment CTV News
    MANCHESTER, United Kingdom -- Canadian indie rock band Broken Social Scene has played the first show of their European tour in Manchester. The performance comes a day after a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the British city killed 22 people and wounded dozens more. Source
  • 'War Machine' co-star Topher Grace would 'love' 'That '70s Show' reunion

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- In looking at the path of his fellow "That '70s Show" alumni, it seemed a natural fit for Topher Grace to wind up on Netflix. Grace stars opposite Brad Pitt in the streaming service's new original military satire "War Machine," which debuts on Friday. Source
  • 'That's just a given now': Nicole Kidman vows to support female filmmakers

    Entertainment CTV News
    CANNES, France -- Nicole Kidman criticized Hollywood's rate of hiring women directors and vowed to support female filmmakers at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. Kidman said that women "have to support female filmmakers -- that's just a given now. Source
  • Public spaces are tricky to police — and attackers know to exploit it

    Entertainment CBC News
    It's a reaction that's becoming all too familiar: In the wake of an attack, there comes the promise to beef up security. After Monday's bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K., a number of event venues around the world were swift to say they were upping their own measures, including Winnipeg's MTS Centre and Toronto's Air Canada Centre. Source
  • Tom Cruise says Top Gun 2 'definitely happening'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    SYDNEY, Australia — The Danger Zone may have gotten old and dusty, but Tom Cruise says he’s about to fly back in. The 54-year-old actor says the long-discussed sequel to “Top Gun” is a sure thing and should start shooting soon. Source
  • Jennifer Lopez Instagrams 'man crush' photo of her with Alex Rodriguez

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jennifer Lopez has posted a sweet photo of a tender moment with her new man on Instagram, calling him her “man crush.” The singer and actress shared a shot of retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez kissing her on the forehead on Tuesday. Source
  • 'Once Upon a Time' star Karen David remembers Manchester attack victim Georgina Callander

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — “Once Upon a Time” actress Karen David only met Manchester bombing victim Georgina Callander for a few minutes, but the sparkling 18-year-old’s embrace is ingrained in her memory. The encounter happened a few weeks ago after the “bubbly” young woman walked up to Toronto-raised David with a plan. Source
  • PHOTOS: Cannes Film Festival 70th Anniversary ceremony [Photos]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Jury members Fan Bingbing, Will Smith, Agnes Jaoui and Maren Ade attend the 70th Anniversary of the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. Source