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There are no do-overs when it comes to an Academy Awards speech.
Over the years, there have been plenty of great Oscar acceptance speeches, but there have also been some really bad ones. Even the most poised of actors can become a blubbering mess when his or her name is called.
Whether an actress forgets to thank her husband or accidentally drops an F-bomb, there’s no taking back a slip-up during the live telecast seen by potentially hundreds of millions of people on film’s big night.
With just days until the 85th Annual Academy Awards, The Hollywood Reporter looks back at five of the most awkward speeches to ever hit the big stage.
In 2000, Hilary Swank won the best actress award for starring in Boys Don’t Cry. One boy did cry when she took the stage — Swank’s then-husband Chad Lowe. However, Swank famously forgot to thank him in her speech. In 2005, Swank tried to right her wrong by thanking Lowe in her speech when she won for Million Dollar Baby. The couple divorced in 2006 after eight years of marriage. At the 2013 Golden Globes, Girls creator Lena Dunham gave Lowe a special shout-out in her speech. She explained her reasons backstage: “Because Hilary Swank forgot. And because I’m an asshole.”
Also in 2000, Angelina Jolie won the Oscar are best supporting actress for Girl, Interrupted. The audience was shocked, however, when Jolie passionately kissed her brother, James Haven, on the mouth on the red carpet. When she took the stage, she gushed about Haven at the beginning of her speech: “I’m so in love with my brother right now. He just held me and said he loved me.” While the media harped on Jolie and Haven’s unusual relationship, the actress later laughed off accusations of incest, calling them “pathetic.”
After winning the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in The Fighter in 2011, Melissa Leo’s colorful speech definitely took the audience by surprise. The actress dropped a big old F-bomb during the live telecast, saying, “When I watched Kate [Winslet] win two years ago, it looked so f—ing easy!” Leo seemed just as surprised as the audience when the explicative came out of her mouth. Host Anne Hathaway commented on the shocking F-bomb later in the show: “Wow, I thought the ‘F’ stood for The Fighter. It’s the young and hip Oscars!”
Even in absence, stars can create awkward acceptance speeches. Marlon Brando skipped the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony altogether, so when he won the Oscar for best actor for The Godfather, American Indian activist Sacheen Littlefeather took his place at the podium. “He very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award and the reason for this being the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry,” Littlefeather said in her short speech to a baffled crowd. Brando had written a longer speech to be read at the podium, but Littlefeather said she couldn’t read it due to time constraints. After being booed by the audience, she read the entire message to the press backstage.
Elinor Burkett and Roger Ross Williams
When Music by Prudence was announced as the winning short documentary film at the 2010 Oscars, producer Roger Ross Williams took the stage to accept the award. However, he was quickly interrupted by Elinor Burkett, who stormed onstage and said: “Just like a man, never lets a woman talk. Isn’t that just the classic thing?” Burkett then continued to speak about the film, which is about a Zimbabwean woman who overcomes a severe disability, but the only thing anyone remembers about that speech is how terrible awkward the whole thing was. It turns out that Williams and Burkett had worked on the film together, but had fallen out over the project, leading to the extremely bizarre onstage interaction.
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