TORONTO - "Zero Dark Thirty" star Jason Clarke says it's "a little disturbing" and "odd" that director Kathryn Bigelow was passed over for an Academy Award nomination Thursday.
"I'm stunned.... I really couldn't believe it," the Aussie actor said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "I'm a little depressed."
Clarke's reaction was echoed by Oscar-watchers around the world, who expressed shock that Bigelow was omitted just two years after she became the first woman to win the directing prize — for "The Hurt Locker."
There was also surprise that "Argo" director Ben Affleck and "Les Miserables" helmer Tom Hooper were left off the list.
Competing for best director are: Ang Lee for "Life of Pi," Steven Spielberg for "Lincoln," Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Michael Haneke for "Amour" and David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook."
"Lincoln" leads the Oscar race with 12 nominations, followed by 11 for "Life of Pi."
"Zero Dark Thirty" did manage to nab a best picture nomination, as well as a best actress nomination for star Jessica Chastain. Historically, it's been very rare for a film to win best picture when the director isn't nominated.
The film — about the capture of Osama bin Laden — has sparked controversy for suggesting that techniques such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding were a necessary evil in the CIA's efforts to find and kill the terrorist mastermind.
Clarke, who plays a wiley interrogator in the film, shrugged off suggestions that such debate had anything to do with the perceived Bigelow snub.
"It's probably 64 million reasons. It's a bit upsetting," said the actor, adding he hadn't spoken to Bigelow.
"I think at the end of the day you have to think that it's academy members who are involved in the film business and they have the intelligence and the integrity to rise above what Washington or newspapers are saying and make their own judgment ... on who's the best director. They didn't think Kathryn was. That's what I find a bit depressing.... She did an extraordinary job."
Clarke — who also stars in the upcoming "The Great Gatsby" — says he's found the whole awards show experience a strange one.
"It's like a weird ... fantastical kind of circus, in a good way," he said.
"It really is. It's weird to see so many people that are very talented that you've watched or respected your whole life. You find yourself in a room with them. It's lovely, you know? And then there's the other side of it as well. I guess you can't get too caught up with it. You've got to take the good with the bad."
Still, the actor found himself baffled Thursday that Bigelow won't have another shot at Oscar glory this year.
Said the actor: "I can't actually understand how she couldn't get nominated. It's odd."
"Zero Dark Thirty" opens Friday.