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Leonardo DiCaprio has won the SAG award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role.
Winning for his work in The Revenant, DiCaprio beat fellow nominees Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).
This is DiCaprio’s first SAG award after being nominated four times in the past in the same category (and nine times overall), but his win is just the latest trophy he’s received for his performance as Hugh Glass in the Alejandro G. Inarritu-directed survival drama.
DiCaprio has already taken home Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards for his work in The Revenant and is currently the frontrunner to win the best actor Oscar this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter‘s awards analyst Scott Feinberg.
In his SAG Awards acceptance speech, DiCaprio reflected back on his early years as an actor, when he was just a teenager. He began by recalling how after he got his part in This Boy’s Life he spent the next year watching “as many films as I possibly could.”
“Films from Jimmy Cagney all the way to Robert DeNiro and it gave me a tremendous respect for this craft. The craft of acting. I was in awe of their performances and I was incredibly inspired,” DiCaprio explained. “So for any young actors out there, I encourage you to watch the history of cinema. As the history of cinema unfolds, you realize that we all stand on the shoulders of giants, so I want to thank all of those actors from the past that have inspired me and all of the actors that are in this room.”
Indeed, DiCaprio said he was humbled by the award, since it was voted on by his fellow actors. He thanked the cast and crew of the film; his team, particularly his manager Rick Yorn, he said; distributor Fox and production company New Regency, especially founder and chairman Arnon Milchan, whom DiCaprio said, “stuck with us until the bitter end.”
He also thanked the people that helped make his acting dreams a reality when he was just a teenager: “And to my parents, thank you for listening to an overly ambitious, slightly annoying 13-year-old kid who wanted to go on auditions every day after school. I would not be standing here without you. Love you.”
Backstage after accepting the award, DiCaprio continued to speak on his respect for cinema: “Any young actor that I speak to when they asked me how I started out, [I tell them] it was by watching movies. It was by watching what has been accomplished in our past. It’s a thirst that’s never quenched. Once you see a great film and a great performance, you’re always striving to get somewhere closer to what you remember as a child.”
Recalling his first role in a commercial as “a little gangster with slicked back hair,” the star shared the one lesson he learned early. “Once you learn your lines,” he said, “then you can kind of settle into all the other moments in a scene.”
Although DiCaprio received The Revenant‘s only SAG Award nomination, the film wasn’t released until Dec. 25, weeks after the SAG Award nominations were announced and even longer after voting on those nominations ended. Regardless the role was a challenging one for the veteran actor, with DiCaprio telling Yahoo Movies this fall that the shoot involved “some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my entire career.”
“Whether it’s going in and out of frozen rivers or sleeping in animal carcasses or what I ate on set. [I was] enduring freezing cold and possible hypothermia constantly,” he added. “I certainly don’t eat raw bison liver on a regular basis. When you see the movie, you’ll see my reaction to it because Alejandro kept it in. It says it all. It was an instinctive reaction.”
The film, based on the experiences of fur-trapper Glass and other real people in the early 19th century as well as Michael Punke’s 2002 novel. After being attacked by a bear and left for dead, DiCaprio’s character struggles to survive and make it to shelter on the North American frontier.
The 22nd annual SAG Awards took place on Saturday, Jan. 30 at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium. The ceremony aired live on TNT and TBS starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
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