Troy Kotsur: «Me, the first deaf actor nominated for an Oscar. The nomination? like an honorary degree

Of Stefania Ulivi

For his role in «The signs of the heart – CODA» he has already collected awards. “Technology has improved the lives of deaf people so much. This film will be important

“There nominations? It’s like I’ve received one honorary degree career after so much hard work. Waiting to understand how the evening of will go March 27thwhere is it « Signs of the heart – CODA»
by director Sian Heder (from 21 March on Sky Cinema Uno), presents itself with three nominations (also Best Film and Best Original Screenplay), Troy Kotsur53, from Arizona, is doing award collection as a supporting actor: Bafta, Saga, Spirit Awards, Critic Choice Award, just to name a few. And the first application never received from a deaf actorthe former is the victory of Marlee Matlin (in the film his wife Jackie), for «Children of a lesser God». The movie is the remake of the successful French comedy “The Belier family».

There was Paula, deaf-mute parents and brother, the only one in the house who could hear and speak, and gifted with an extraordinary talent for singing. Here we are in Gloucester, IN Massachusettsthe Reds are fishermen and Ruby (Emilia Jones) — a CODA, or Child of Deaf Adults, daughter of deaf parents — experiences the same conflict: following the his passion or be supportive of the family? Its more great ally it is the father Frank, Kotsur, who – tells al “Courier” via Zoom, supported by an interpreter who translates our questions into the sign language — has an opposite story.


«I was the only deaf member of my family, I have two older brothers who hear. My father learned sign language perfectly when he found out I was born deaf. When I was already growing up he had an accident, he was paralysed: as a family we did everything to support him. One day he told me: you have to go your own way, don’t worry about me, do what you have to. I thought of him creating the character of Frank. But not only”.

To what else?

«To me as a father, today. I have a 17 year old daughter, next year I know I will have to let her go. I’m not ready, but that’s right.”

Neither “The Belier family” the actors were playing deaf-mutes but they weren’t.

«I am grateful to the French producers of that film, it was a seed planted that set a process in motion. The success prompted her to be even more daring, and this led the director to seek greater authenticity and the choice of casting deaf actors».

Heder, who also wrote the screenplay, learned sign language. How did you work on the set?

«Sian is a person with a big heart, very sensitive to our culture which she wanted to respect as much as possible. For example, in setting up the Rossi house. Hearing people sit next to each other, we deaf people try to stay in a circle to communicate better with signs, so we had to rearrange the furniture. You accepted several of my suggestions ».

You are also a writer and theater director, with the National Theater of the Deaf and Deaf West Theater in Los Angeles. You directed a film, «No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie». He never misses an opportunity to joke (but not too much): he ran for the Bafta as a deaf James Bond.

«Yes, I love jokes, puns. In the scenes with Marlee we also improvised. Acting with her was a joy. When I was 17 I saw the first film with a deaf interpreter, it was “Children of a Lesser God” and the interpreter was Marlee. A fine example, she made me believe that one day I would make it.’

What impact will the success of «The signs of the heart» have?

“Technology has greatly improved the lives of deaf people. At the time of silent cinema there was no difference, even a deaf person could enjoy Charlie Chaplin, sound excluded us as an audience. We had to fight for subtitled movies. Now technology helps, and this film will be important, I’m sure. Even for us actors.”

Returning to the film, who are the Reds?

«They live off Frank’s fishing activity, they depend a lot on their daughter Ruby but when music comes into his life the balance is shattered. Father Frank tries not to be selfish. When he goes to see the concert rehearsals he becomes aware of his talent which he senses from the reaction of the audience. He understands that he is really good and pushing her to give up on her would mean taking away an important part of herself from her ».

The Rossis have Italian origins.

“Nice huh. There’s a scene where Marlee asks me what you want for dinner, we were improvising and I said: spaghetti. It’s my favorite food, even though I’m from Arizona.”

March 18, 2022 (change March 18, 2022 | 21:04)

Troy Kotsur: «Me, the first deaf actor nominated for an Oscar. The nomination? like an honorary degree