Helen Mirren says it’s ‘unfair’ to criticise Oscars for lack of diversity

The 2007 Best Actress winner shares her thoughts on Hollywood's ongoing diversity debate

Helen Mirren has suggested it is “unfair” to criticise the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations.

For the second consecutive year, all 20 acting nominees are white, which has prompted several high-profile film industry figures including Will Smith and Spike Lee to announce they will be boycotting the awards ceremony in Los Angeles later this month.

“I think it’s unfair to attack the Academy. It just so happened this year, it went that way,” Mirren said when asked about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy by Channel 4 News.

“The issue we need to be looking at is what happens before the film gets to the Oscars, what kinds of films are made and the way in which they’re cast, and the scripts,” Mirren added. “It’s those things that are much more influential, ultimately, than who stands there with an Oscar.”

Mirren, winner of the Best Actress prize in 2007 for her role in The Queen, also said that Idris Elba should have been nominated this year for his performance in Netflix’s war drama Beasts Of No Nation.

“Idris Elba absolutely would have been nominated for an Oscar. He wasn’t because not enough people saw, or wanted to see a film about child soldiers,” she said.