Paul Raci finally netted a major award win with the Independent Spirit Award prize for Best Supporting Male thanks to his acclaimed performance in “Sound of Metal.” While Raci had earned several critics group accolades, the Spirit Award marked his first victory at a major awards ceremony. Raci was shut out of the supporting actor category at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards before rebounding in the season with nominations from the Spirit Awards, the BAFTA Film Awards, and the Academy Awards.
Raci stars opposite Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal” as Joe, a late-deafened and recovering alcoholic who runs a shelter for deaf recovering addicts. Joe becomes a mentor figure to Ahmed’s Ruben Stone, a drummer struggling with hearing loss. Raci won the Spirit Award over fellow nominees Colman Domingo (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Orion Lee (“First Cow”), Glynn Turmann (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and Benedict Wong (“Nine Days”).
Later this week, Raci will compete at the Oscars in the Best Supporting Actor race opposite Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), Lakeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”), and Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”).
“Sound of Metal” director Darius Marder previously told IndieWire that it was a top priority to cast someone from the Deaf community to play Joe. Marder repeatedly turned down meetings with A-list actors who wanted to audition for the role and ultimately settled on Raci, a child of deaf adults (C.O.D.A). “Sound of Metal” marked the most sizable role of Raci’s career thus far after appearing in bit parts on television series such as NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and FX’s “Baskets.”
“I see the script and, on paper, that thing was so beautiful and moving. I knew this character, this Joe guy,” Raci told IndieWire about accepting the role. “I’ve got so much experience doing exactly what he’s done.”
Raci continued, “I love the way [“Sound of Metal”] used the deaf world, how it talked about addiction. So it was a perfect project for me, [but] it was quite a struggle trying to get them to even look at my tape. We worked up the audition, sent it in, and when my agent checked on it about a week later they said they hadn’t seen it yet. As matter of fact, they’re having such a hard time because they saw so many people, they [were] going to give up and go to a name [actor]. So she begged them to please look at it and find it. They did find it and five minutes later they called and said that they showed it to the director, Darius Marder, and he wanted to talk to me.”
“Sound of Metal” is now streaming on Amazon.