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When Denzel Washington accepted his Best Actor Oscar in 2002 for his role in Training Day, he became the second African-American male ever to receive the honor (after Sidney Poitier, who won for 1963's Lilies of the Field). It was a historic night. And Washington almost missed it.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the 55-year-old star of the new apocalyptic drama Book of Eli reveals that he considered skipping the Academy Awards the year he nabbed his Training Day nomination, after losing for 1999's The Hurricane.
"After Hurricane, I was like, I don't feel like dealing with these people, I'm just not going to go," he told EW. "In order to protect yourself, you almost have to not care. So that night I didn't care -- and of course, they go, 'Here.'"
If Washington had missed the ceremony, he wouldn't have been the first. Here are three Oscar winners who missed their golden moment:
1. Marlon Brando -- The most famous Oscar-skipper, Brando won Best Actor in 1973 for the title role in The Godfather. Rather than accept, Brando sent a proxy: Native-American activist Sasheen Littlefeather declined the statuette and gave a speech about Hollywood's mistreatment of Indians. Brando later told reporters he'd been at home during the ceremony watching hockey.
2. Joan Crawford -- Nominated in 1946 for Mildred Pierce, Crawford stayed home, claiming she had the flu. Reportedly, the reason was that she was simply a nervous wreck, fearful of defeat. When her win was announced on the radio (the Academy Awards weren't televised annually until 1953), Crawford sent for her makeup artist and hairdresser, conveniently on call in the next room.
3. Orson Welles -- Citizen Kane, which received 13 Oscar nominations in 1942, is often considered the greatest American film in history, but at the time, it was incredibly controversial (thanks in no small part to an anti-Welles smear campaign orchestrated by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper mogul upon whom the drama was based). In the end, Welles won for Best Screenplay -- he also directed and starred in the film -- but opted to stay home for the ceremony. Which was probably for the best: Every time his name was announced, the crowd booed and hissed.
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