With 12 Years a Slave having been anointed the 2013 awards-season frontrunner, Michael Fassbender is a serious Best Supporting Actor contender for his role as a merciless slaver. But in an interview with GQ this month — in between pontifications on the usefulness of banks and calls to buy gold — Fassbender declares that he won't be promoting his own cause for awards, continuing the proud tradition of the anti-campaign Oscar campaign.
"That's just not going to happen," says Fassbender, "because I'll be in New Zealand. I'll be on the other side of the world. You know, I get it. Everybody's got to do their job. So you try and help and facilitate as best you can. But I won't put myself through that kind of situation again."
New Zealand is where Fassbender will be filming Macbeth (disappointingly not titled The Scottish Film) with Marion Cotillard and director Justin Kurzel. The "again" part apparently refers to Fassbender's failed Best Actor bid for Shame in 2011 (he did get a Golden Globe nomination).
Of course, declining to campaign for an Academy Award — that is, running the gauntlet of press appearances, cocktail parties, special screenings, and the tens of thousands of precursor award ceremonies that take place between December and February — isn't the same thing as removing oneself from contention. Just last year, Joaquin Phoenix blasted the entire awards process while declaring his intentions to opt out, but he found himself nominated for Best Actor for The Master regardless. Mo'Nique defied the received wisdom of public-relations consultants by staying home and hosting her BET talk show rather than glad-hand around Hollywood for Precious, and she walked home with a statue anyway.
The anti-campaign is as smart a campaign tactic as any. It allows an actor to look pure, principled, and not overly desperate for validation. The anti-campaigner is the cool guy smoking a cigarette in the corner. "Why, it's like he doesn't even need our awards!" voters shout, while checking the anti-campaigner's box and striking a blow against the crass Oscar culture that feeds the entire industry.