The two-time Oscar winner insisted the lack of diversity among nominees is symptomatic of a bigger problem that affects American society.

Dustin did not attend Sunday night's (28Feb16) Academy Awards choosing instead to be at a basketball game, which he watched in the company of film director Spike Lee, a vocal critic of the lack of African-American nominees at this year's Oscars.

Spike, the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award this year, joined a high-profile group leading a boycott of the show including Concussion actor Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

"It's always been racism. It's kind of a reflection of what the country is," Dustin explained to the Associated Press. "Well, it's always been that way. It's not anything new, like Chris Rock, I heard said, 'Why this year'."

The actor was speaking at the opening of the Metrograph on Wednesday (02March16), the first independently-owned movie theatre to open in Manhattan in more than decade.

He explained how he saw Spike, 58, dressed in a tuxedo courtside at Madison Square. "I went to see the Knicks game and saw my friend Spike Lee there all dressed up for the Oscars, but he was at the Knick (sic) game," Dustin smiled, who also skipped both the show and the broadcast.

Asked what he thought it might take to bring more diversity to Hollywood, the screen star was candid: "We change when the people that are oppressed force it to change."

The issue of diversity was broadly addressed by show host Chris in his opening monologue, with the comic questioning the accompanying controversy: "It's the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole black, no nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times."