Joining the Motion Picture Academy is seen by many as one of the world’s most exclusive and prestigious memberships, an elite recognition in a profession that is admired and envied the world over. For others, not so much.
Membership invitations went out to a list of 774 industry professionals released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday — names that include “Get Out” director Jordan Peele and “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot —but those invitees still have to actually accept the invitation.
Among the most famous known to decline an academy membership over the years are Oscar winners Woody Allen and George Lucas. And until now, that small list of holdouts has included actor Viggo Mortensen.
He was first invited to join in 2004, after starring in the Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and declined. Mortensen was subsequently nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for “Eastern Promises,” and was nominated again this year for his role in “Captain Fantastic” as a father with unconventional ideas about parenting.
He was once again among the academy invitees on Wednesday morning. A spokesperson for Mortensen said the actor would accept this time but declined to offer any further statement.
In a 2012 article in The Times, a representative for Mortensen explained his previous decision not to accept the membership by saying, “Viggo does not like judging art officially.”
Last year after filmmaker Ryan Coogler was invited to join, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that he did not return his acceptance letter. Coogler’s 2015 film “Creed” was among those that amplified the conversation around diversity, representation and awards after the only Oscar nominee from the movie was
Sylvester Stallone for supporting actor. Coogler, currently finishing Marvel’s much-anticipated “Black Panther,” could not be reached for confirmation as to whether he joined the academy.
Among those known to have declined membership, none stands out quite like four-time Oscar-winner Allen. As previously reported by The Times, over several years, the academy sent Allen numerous invitations to join, but he never responded.
Finally, then-academy President Karl Malden mailed Allen a letter promising that if the filmmaker made a sizable donation to the academy’s fundraising effort for its library, the group would leave him alone. Allen is said to have replied with a check within a week.
Actress Olivia Munn is 37 … Singer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler of Digable Planets is 48 … TV chef Sandra Lee is 51 … Actress Yeardley Smith (”The Simpsons”) is 53 … Actor Tom Cruise is 55 … Talk-show host Montel Williams is 61 … Writer Dave Barry is 70