The unintended drama that engulfed the unexpected ending at the Oscars occurred months after producers discussed the idea to switch the order of awards at the ceremony, Steven Soderbergh revealed.
Many viewers were disappointed that Best Actor replaced Best Picture as the final award to be unveiled at last month’s show, only for Anthony Hopkins to surprisingly beat the late Chadwick Boseman. Hopkins wasn’t at the ceremony, so the event abruptly ended from there.
Soderbergh, who was a producer on the Oscars broadcast, told The Los Angeles Times that producers spoke about changing the order back in January, before the nominations were even announced.
“It’s our belief — that I think is not unfounded — that actors’ speeches tend to be more dramatic than producers’ speeches,” Soderbergh told the newspaper.
“And so we thought it might be fun to mix it up, especially if people didn’t know that was coming. So that was always part of the plan. And then when the nominations came out and there was even the possibility that Chadwick could win posthumously, our feeling was if he were to win and his widow were to speak on his behalf, there would be nowhere to go after that. So we stuck with it.”
Boseman, who died last August at age 43 following a private battle with colon cancer, was considered the Best Actor favorite for his portrayal of a headstrong horn player at a tumultuous recording session in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
The actor had won equivalent honors throughout this awards season for the performance, including at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics Choice Awards.
Soderbergh told the L.A. Times that they would’ve opted to end the show with the Best Actor announcement if there was a “sliver of a chance” that Boseman would win.
Hopkins instead received the honor for his portrayal of a man suffering from memory loss in “The Father.”
The Oscars suffered their lowest ratings ever in 2021, pulling in just around 10 million viewers.