One certainly can’t accuse the Academy Awards of any homegrown bias. Last year’s Oscars numbered two foreign-born talents — England’s Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Sweden’s Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) — among the four acting champs. In total, 11 of the 20 acting nominees were from other countries. This year, there are a lucky seven foreign-born folk in the mix.
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The Academy Awards rolled out the welcome mat at the very first ceremony in 1929 when Swiss-born Emil Jannings won lead actor for his performances in “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh.” And three of the first four lead actresses came from Canada — Mary Pickford (“Coquette”), Norma Shearer (“The Divorcee”), and Marie Dressler (“Min and Bill”).
In 2007, all four acting winners came from foreign shores: Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”) and Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”) from England, Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”) — who made Oscars history by giving the first French-language performance to be so honored — from France, and Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”), who was the first Spanish performer to win an Oscar.
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That marked only the second time in Oscar history that all four acting champs hailed from outside the United States. The first was back in 1964 when the winners were three Brits — Rex Harrison (“My Fair Lady”), Julie Andrews (“Mary Poppins”), and Peter Ustinov (“Topkapi”) — and Russian-born Lila Kedrova (“Zorba the Greek”).
Over the course of 88 ceremonies, 293 different individuals have won 334 Oscars (there has been one tie in each of lead actor and lead actress). Of these, 89 winners came from outside the U.S. to take home 102 Oscars. While 23 other countries have produced Oscar champs, it is not surprising that England leads with 40 of her citizens winning 47 Oscars.
Over the last 88 Oscars, lead actor has gone to a non-American 28 times and lead actress 27 times while in the 79-year history of the supporting awards, non-Americans won supporting actor 26 times and supporting actress 21 times.
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In the following list, the Oscar-winning performers are listed under the country with which they are most associated and their birthplace is given when it differs. In addition, those actors who were born elsewhere but raised primarily in the U.S. are not included, such as Elizabeth Taylor, born in England, Claudette Colbert in France, sisters Joan Fontaine and Olivia DeHavilland in Japan, Anthony Quinn in Mexico, Natalie Portman in Israel and Paul Muni in the Ukraine.
Russell Crowe (born in New Zealand; family emigrated when he was 4)
Peter Finch (born in England; family returned to Australia when he was 7)
Nicole Kidman (born in the U.S.; family returned to Australia when she was 4)
Haing S. Ngor
Julie Christie (born in India; family returned to England when she was 7)
Vivien Leigh (born in India; family returned to England when she was 6)
George Sanders (born in Russia; family returned to England when he was 11)
Simone Signoret (born in Germany; family emigrated when she was 3)
Anna Paquin (born in Canada; family emigrated when she was 4)
Benicio Del Toro
Maximilian Schell (born in Austria; family emigrated when he was 8)
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