Troy Kotsur of CODA talks about his historic Oscar nomination and what it means to the Deaf community, as well as his next film, “Flash Before The Bang,” and his directorial ambitions.
Troy Kotsur, the star of CODA, became the first deaf male actor to be nominated for an Academy Award this morning, and he talked with Deadline about what the historic accomplishment means for the deaf community, as well as his next film, Flash Before the Bang, and other topics.
Given the significance the Oscars play in delivering attention to great work and the artists behind it, Kotsur said he was “very happy” with his nomination, as well as the Apple film’s Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay nominations. “It’s fantastic to be able to share this experience with both the deaf and hearing communities,” the actor added via an ASL translator. “It’s both thrilling and a gift.”
CODA is a comic drama based on the French film La Famille Bélier about Ruby (Emilia Jones), a CODA (or “child of deaf adult”) who works as an interpreter for her Boston family, including her mother Jackie (Marlee Matlin), father Frank (Kotsur), and brother Leo (Daniel Durant). The heroine is divided between her role in linking her loved ones to the outside world—particularly with relation to their fishing business—and her pursuit of a music degree at a key point in her life.
The significance of CODA’s recognition by the Film Academy and other award organisations, according to Kotsur, cannot be overstated. “I was simply moved by the fact that so many deaf individuals from all across the community are ecstatic and rejoicing.” “It’s critical for the group of deaf people in our ensemble,” he said. “It tends to be just one deaf character in a picture, as it has been with many of Marlee‘s previous roles, but I hope Hollywood is becoming more open-minded and giving more varied artists a chance to express their stories.” It’s really a good thing that people are becoming more aware of ASL and deaf culture. “
Kotsur says he can “feel the positivity out there” right now in terms of efforts to increase onscreen representation of all underrepresented groups, and that he has recently seen significant progress in terms of deaf actor opportunities, citing the A Quiet Place films and Marvel’s Eternals as examples. “It’s fascinating to witness because everyone has something to say. “The deaf community has such a rich storytelling heritage, and I hope that people feel inspired to collaborate creatively,” he added. “It makes no difference whether we’re deaf or hearing; we’re all humans.”
The actor’s next project is Flash Before the Bang, a film about the Oregon School for the Deaf’s all-deaf track team, who won the state championship in 1986 despite playing against a variety of hearing schools. Kotsur will portray Coach Farrior, the team’s captain, in the drama directed by Jevon Whetter. “I’m ecstatic because both the producer and the director are deaf, and we’re collaborating with a deaf and hearing cast and crew,” Kotsur said of the project. “It’ll be a new challenge for me, and I’m excited about it.”
In the future, Kotsur aspires to explore directing after attempting it before and discovering that “Hollywood wasn’t quite ready.”
“I don’t want to feel like I’m restricting myself as an actor.” He said, “I want to be able to wear several hats and have various duties.” “I’d want to be a director, a teacher, or an actor, and it’s vital for me to do what I can and have alternatives, rather than restricting myself to what’s available.”
Kotsur‘s Oscar nomination follows that of his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin, who was the first deaf actress to be nominated (in the category of Best Actress) and win an Oscar in 1986 for Children of a Lesser God. He was also the first deaf actor to get an individual SAG nomination for his work, sharing a nomination with Matlin and the rest of the cast for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
I think it’s inspiring to watch someone like Troy, who has worked in the theatre for 30 years and has persisted and been so dedicated to his profession despite the odds being stacked against him.
“It’s just so beautiful to witness him have this moment,” the film’s writer and director, Sian Heder, told Deadline.
CODA is Apple’s first Best Picture nominee, as well as the first film with a primarily deaf cast to get the honour. It won the Grand Jury Prize, as well as the Audience Award, Directing Award, and U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble, when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021. Apple paid a record-breaking $25 million for the picture after it premiered at the festival, and it will be released in cinemas and on Apple TV+ on August 13. The film has also received nominations for the BAFTA Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, the Artios Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, the PGA Awards, and the WGA Awards during the 2021-2022 awards season. At the 2021 Gotham Awards, Kotsur won Outstanding Supporting Performance, Jones won Breakthrough Performance, and Matlin received an extra nomination for Supporting Performance.
Kotsur received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.Ciarán Hinds (Belfast), J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos), and the Power of the Dog combination of Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee are among his opponents. On March 27, the event will take place.