PR Titan Turned Producer Matthew Freud Joins Writer-Director Charlie Mackesy To Say “Sorry” For Winning Animated Short Film Oscar For ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse’

Charlie Mackesy, left, and Matthew Freud accepting the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse" Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

London-based PR maven Matthew Freud, joined by fellow Brit and collaborator Charlie Mackesy, offered his apologies for winning the Oscar for Short Film (Animated) for The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse.

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“I’ve never made a film before, so this is bewildering,” Freud said in accepting the trophy. “I know the protocol is to say ‘thank you’ a lot, but I’m British, so I’m more comfortable saying ‘sorry.’ So, I’m really sorry to all the people who should be on this stage with us,” alluding to the large crew and voice cast who teamed up for two years during Covid to make the film. Freud closed by quipping that he was “also really sorry to my children, my girlfriend and my colleagues at [PR firm] Freuds for basically being absent over the last two years.”

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The Boy came into Oscar night as a heavy favorite in the category. The heart-tugging, hand-animated tale of the unlikely bond formed among four creatures trekking across a snowy landscape had an array of high-profile backers. Along with Freud, the film’s producers include Cara Speller, Hannah Minghella and JJ Abrams, and the BBC aired it as a holiday special in the UK. Woody Harrelson and longtime former Apple exec Jony Ive also came aboard as executive producers, and the original score is by Isobel Waller-Bridge, the sister of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sister. Jude Coward Nicoll, Gabriel Byrne, Idris Elba and Tom Hollander voiced the four characters in the half-hour film.

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Along with Jon Croker, Mackesy co-wrote the screenplay which is based on his popular book. Mackesy also co-directed with Peter Baynton.

Taking the mic from Freud, Mackesy recounted a conversation with a woman from his hometown who was helping him with his outfit for Oscar night. “She said, ‘You know, Charlie, it takes a lot of courage to make a film and I think when you go there, there will be a lot of brave, brave people in the same room.’ … It’s really true.” Along with contemplative sentiments, Mackesy also thanked his dog, but sheepishly admitted that the pet had been left “back at the hotel” during the ceremony. “I don’t even think I’m supposed to say that, I’m sorry.”

The win adds momentum to Apple’s recent push into animation, which included last summer’s release of the feature-length Luck, which was overseen by former Pixar chief Jon Lassiter, who now runs Skydance Animation. Apple TV+ also plans upcoming book-based animated series Eva the Owlet and Frog and Toad and will stream Peanuts specials like A Charlie Brown Valentine. The streaming service recently became the home of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which for decades had aired every year on broadcast TV.

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