Jean-Claude Carriere has written more than 100 films. After winning an Oscar in 1962 for one of his earliest works, the French writer will accept a second statuette this weekend at the film academy’s Governors Awards.
Carriere will receive an honorary Oscar alongside actress Maureen O’Hara, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte at a private ceremony Saturday in Hollywood. The 83-year-old novelist, screenwriter and playwright said he was “astonished” and “filled with joy” when he learned he was being recognized for his five-decade film career.
“Usually the names of the screenwriters are forgotten,” Carriere said in a recent interview, charming with his French accent. “They do not appear on the credits. When there is a review about the film, it’s very rare that the name of the screenwriter appears. So for once, the screenwriter is in, how can I say, full light.”
Carriere may be best known for his long collaboration with director Luis Bunuel, with whom he worked for nearly 20 years and shared Oscar nominations for 1972’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and 1977’s “That Obscure Object of Desire.” He calls the late director “a master” and says he still considers his approach when writing. Another of Carriere’s longtime collaborators is director Peter Brook, with whom he has worked for three decades.
“These long-lasting collaborations, they are like the life of an old couple: each person knows the other person well,” the writer said. “Imagine two good friends who step by step discover new feelings, new ideas, new emotions from each other. That’s my life with all of them.”
Carriere is still working, still challenged and inspired by creating stories for the stage and screen.
“I couldn’t complain at all,” he said. “I am the son of a poor farmer from the south of France and now I am receiving an honorary Oscar in Hollywood.”
He said he even appreciates his failures. “Even when something doesn’t work – when a theater play goes to a flop, which happens sometimes – even then you have to enjoy it because it proves you have a certain relationship with the audience,” he said. “But if the audience rejects everything, then you’d better stop writing.”
Carriere’s 12-year-old daughter will decide where to keep his new Oscar.
“I suppose she’ll take it with her in her room,” he said.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established the Governors Awards in 2009 to recognize recipients of honorary Oscars. Highlights from Saturday’s untelevised event will be included in the 2015 Academy Awards telecast.