I became an actor to escape my own personality
The first actor to refuse an Oscar, George C Scott was a truly original and imperious presence on stage and screen. The Oscar refusal was for World War II biopic Patton , but Scott had already been in the spotlight for over a decade when he was nominated for the Academy Award.
Born in Virginia, the young George Campbell Scott raised by his father, after his mother died when he was just seven years old. The actor originally wanted to emulate his idol F. Scott Fitzgerald and become a writer, but despite some early attempts, he was unable to make a literary breakthrough. He turned his mind to acting after serving in the US Marines for four years.
His big chance came when he was cast as Richard III in 1958 – one critic described it as the ‘angriest’ performance of that character of all time. Scott’s performances would often be distinguished by the way he employed anger and disdain, to deliver something new to the roles he played.
The zenith of any actors career is winning an Oscar. Scott, though, had already turned down two Best Supporting actor nominations, when he was nominated for his lead role in Patton, in 1970.
Despite warning the academy that he would not accept the award, he won regardless. While the Oscars were being staged, he was at home watching hockey on TV. He later said: "The whole thing is a goddamn meat parade. I don't want any part of it.”
Scott continued acting until the year he died. Among those who paid tribute was actor Jack Lemmon, who described Scott as one of the greatest actors he had ever known.