Recently, BAFTA hosted a session for the nominees in the Supporting Actor category. The Session took place virtually, with nominees Mike Faist (West Side Story), Ciarán Hinds (Belfast), Woody Norman (C’mon C’mon) Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) and Troy Kotsur (CODA) speaking.
The EE BAFTA Film Awards are set to take place on Sunday March 13th, 2022, at the Royal Albert Hall; the event will be hosted by Rebel Wilson, and broadcast on BBC One, BBC One HD, and BBC iPlayer at 7:00pm GMT.
Troy Kotsur is a deaf American actor, who recently starred in 2021’s CODA, earning himself a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
CODA follows Ruby (Emilia Jones), the only person in her deaf family who is hearing impaired. After joining her school’s choir club, she is drawn to both her duet partner and her burning passion for singing.
Kotsur plays Frank Rossi in the movie, and spoke about what the feature’s representation of the deaf community means to him.
“When I was younger, I saw Marlee Matlin and she was the first Deaf Oscar Award winner. And that happened in 1986 and really, that gave me hope”.
Kotsur continued to speak about the deaf community within cinema, as he stated to have not “seen much sign language on the big screen.”
The actor went on to say that "with CODA we had an ensemble cast of three deaf characters, mother, father and son, who all use sign language as their mode of communication. So it felt like it was really an opportunity for us to share our language and our culture.”
Within many films, actors often have to do things they are a little uncomfortable with, and CODA was no different. Kotsur isn’t too fond of fish, but he made it work despite being “born and raised in Arizona, which is desert, and so obviously I had never seen whales out in my desert!”
Kotsur continued to discuss how he managed to play his Award-worthy role, in spite of his fishy fear.
When he landed in “Massachusetts to learn how to fish out on these fishing boats it was this transformation for me. It was like being surrounded by a bunch of Popeyes and how these Gloucester fishermen spoke and walked and behaved and all the swearing and of course the bar fights and this actually really influenced my character as I dove into this role.”
The actor also explained how “we had to develop new signs that actually fit that fishing culture and language, and so it was a lot of fun for me to research.”
“I was so uncomfortable touching the lobsters, these are live lobsters keep in mind and I just had to be cool and sort the lobsters that reminded me of giant spiders, and I don't eat fish or seafood, I never have, but my point is, our director, Sean Hader, mentioned to me that Frank Rossi was a high school dropout when he was younger and he had to run his father’s fishing business after his father passed away.”
It seems clear that despite his ocean hang-ups, Kotsur faced his fear and simply focused his mind on what he was creating, which was something very dear to his heart.
Kotsur had to really “dive in and really push myself and push my comfort zone and my personal limitations”, which can be difficult for the best of us.
To end the interview, Kotsur spent some time reflecting on a film franchise that brings him a lot of joy: "it's a movie called Star Wars. And when I was eight years old, remember that movies back then had no access to closed captioning.
“But Star Wars had so much to say visually with the laser guns, the spaceships, the aliens, and I was so overwhelmed that as an eight-year-old I watched the movie in the theatre twenty-eight times. And it still touches me today”.
As a final thought, Kotsur stated that “Star Wars as a deaf youngster was so visual to me and it had diversity in the aliens and the robots and the languages and all of that for me was just wonderful to watch even without sounds. So that's my favourite film that I will always go back to.”
CODA is available to watch on Apply TV+, and also stars Marlee Matlin, Eugenio Derbez, and Daniel Durant.
Watch the trailer for CODA below:
Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal
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