Troy Kotsur just about stole the show in CODA, this year’s moving Best Picture underdog — and since being nominated for Best Supporting Actor, he’s been stealing hearts at every awards show on the road to the Oscars, too.
CODA is a moving story about the power of familial love, centered on Ruby (Emilia Jones), a child of deaf adults (the titular CODA). Kotsur delivers a grounded, emotional, and laugh-out-loud funny performance as the family’s patriarch. When Ruby begins to explore her passion for singing, a path that would ultimately pull her away from home and the safety net of her family, it’s her relationship with her father that audiences will perhaps remember most as the credits roll.
Ahead of the Oscars this Sunday, where CODA is up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor, we’ve rounded up five things to know about the award-winning actor.
01. He Comes From a Stage Background
Kotsur has played some of the most iconic roles in theater at the famed Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, including Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, Lenny in Of Mice and Men, and Prince Hamlet in Ophelia. The Deaf West Theatre often combines sign language with spoken language, allowing a diverse array of audience members to enjoy theater together.
02. He’s the First Deaf Actor to Appear in the Star Wars Universe
While CODA has brought Kotsur further into the general public’s awareness, he’s already traversed a galaxy far, far away. The actor appeared in the fifth episode of The Mandalorian, the smash series on Disney+, as a Tusken Raider.
That’s not all — as reported by The Daily Moth, when it came time to create sign language in The Book of Boba Fett, Kotsur returned to the franchise to do the honors for Episode 1, “Stranger in a Strange Land.”
03. He Left College to Pursue Acting
Kotsur attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., one of the oldest institutions specializing in higher education for the deaf and hard of hearing. He received an acting job offer from the National Theatre of the Deaf while in attendance, and left Gallaudet to tour with NTD for two years, performing in two plays during that time.
04. He and Onscreen Wife Marlee Matlin Wanted to Work Together For Years
In a recent profile with The New York Times, Kotsur reveals that he vividly remembers watching Marlee Matlin, who plays his wife in CODA, take home her history-making trophy for Best Actress at the 1987 Oscars. Throughout the late ’90s, Matlin would often catch Kotsur onstage at Deaf West, but it wasn’t until casting was confirmed for CODA that the pair finally had the chance to act opposite one another.
05. There’s a Reason for His Trademark Hats
Those who have been keeping up with awards season might have noticed that Kotsur, like his character in CODA, seems to always be sporting a hat. While on the red carpet for the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards, the actor revealed that wearing a hat helps shield his eyes from the flashing lights and bright camera bulbs, ultimately allowing him to see the interpreter more clearly while making his way down the press line.