'Nebraska's' Bruce Dern on Going for the Best Actor Oscar: 'If I Go Supporting, I'm a Whore'

Paramount Pictures
Bruce Dern in "Nebraska"

In a Telluride interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the veteran star of Alexander Payne's new film says he's not listening to awards handicappers who think he'd have a better shot in the supporting actor category.

TELLLURIDE, Colo. – Bruce Dern wants to shut down any talk that he should campaign for a best supporting actor nomination for his performance as Woody in Nebraska instead of aiming for a best actor slot. As he put it bluntly in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter at the Telluride Film Festival, "If I go supporting, I'm a whore."

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Alexander Payne's new film, which Paramount will release Nov. 22, stars Dern and Will Forte as a father and son on a cross-country road trip. While Dern won the best actor award at this May's Cannes Film Festival, a lot of Oscar bloggers have been arguing that if he wants to maximize his chances to win an Oscar, he should position himself for a run at best supporting actor rather than the more competitive best actor prize.

But the 77-year-old actor, who was last nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor in Coming Home in 1979, won't hear of it.

"My take is this," Dern said following a screening of the movie on Friday. "The story is about who Woody is and where he's going. It's probably 50-50 screen time with Will Forte, but Woody is a leading role. If I go supporting, I'm a whore. Because I never came to Hollywood to win an award. I came to do good movies. If I go supporting, it's embarrassing to the Academy because it looks like I'm trying to sneak in somehow so I can eat all those chicken and peas dinners. I'd rather go the right way than backdoor my way into a supporting because of my age or whatever."

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Dern added, "I would be thrilled if I was nominated, and to have a nomination is the win." Acknowledging his director and cast, he said, "Alex gave me great teammates. We're all supporting each other in this movie." Bottom line, he said, "I hope Nebraska gets celebrated by people who like movies."