Remember Jaye Davidson? Twenty years ago, the Riverside, Calif. native was front and center in the 1992 Oscar race, nominated as Best Supporting Actor for the role of Dil in Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game. He wound up losing to Gene Hackman’s evil Unforgiven sheriff.
The bulk of Awards Line managing editor Anthony D’Alessandro’s 20th anniversary look-back is about how producer Stephen Woolley and Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein miraculously managed to get the press to keep the film’s gender-bending plot twist a secret. But there’s also this tidbit:
Davidson never plotted an acting career in the first place. A prolific role as the sun god Ra in MGM’s sci-fi film Stargate followed. At one point during Cannes 1998, it was announced Davidson was attached to a Steven Seagal action title Cousin Joey opposite Mickey Rourke (which was never made).
Largely, Davidson remains MIA with IMDb reporting his last acting credit as a Nazi photographer in the 2009 short The Borghilde Project. Per Woolley, “I think he’s in Paris. The last I heard, he was really happy.”
This is not a knock on Riverside per se. But if we’d started out in that corner of California as Alfred Amey and wound up in the City of Lights, we’d be pretty happy too. Read D’Alessandro’s full piece here.
Update (Dec. 5, 2014):
For a week-long look at celebrated film and TV sex scenes, New York magazine collected the thoughts of The Crying Game star Stephen Rea. He had this to say about Davidson’s disappearing act:
“I don’t know what happened to Jaye. I think he made a couple of movies and found that it wasn’t for him. He was quite young, and he was really brilliant in the movie.”
“Maybe Jaye had second thoughts — “Oh, why did I do that?” You know yourself that the film world can be tacky and repulsive in lots of ways. Maybe anything he was on after that just seemed stupid. I certainly thought he could’ve had liftoff in a very big way because he was an extraordinary figure, and the world had become ready for ambiguous sexuality or transgender experiences. But maybe he just didn’t want it.”
Update (Feb. 16, 2017):
Davidson made a rare public appearance at a special 25th anniversary screening of The Crying Game hosted by the British Film Institute in London. He explained about his early retirement from acting: “Back then I did not think there were enough roles for black people. And then when you add openly gay black people, that’s the double whammy. So I thought I would be scrambling for the crumbs. And it’s hard to live off crumbs.”