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Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant, and he delivered a powerful message about climate change while accepting his award on Sunday night.
“Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world, a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow,” he said of filming The Revenant in Argentina. “Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It’s the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”
DiCaprio continued: “We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this. For our children’s children and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed, I thank you all for this amazing award tonight.
“Let us not take this planet for granted,” he concluded. “I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so much.”
DiCaprio, whose speech garnered cheers from the Hollywood audience, also thanked the “tireless efforts” of his cast and crew, including his “brother in this endeavor,” Tom Hardy, saying, “Your fierce talent onscreen can only be surpassed by your friendship offscreen.” He then thanked director Alejandro G. Inarritu: “To Mr. Alejandro Inarritu — as the history of cinema unfolds, you have forged your way into history these past two years. What an unbelievable talent you are.”
Beating out Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), DiCaprio’s Oscar win has been long awaited. He has been nominated four times previously — for The Wolf of Wall Street, Blood Diamond, The Aviator and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape — but consistently came up empty-handed.
The Revenant was nominated in 12 categories, including best picture and best director, which Inarritu won. While thanking his “talented and crazy” cast and crew, the filmmaker spoke directly to DiCaprio while accepting his award. “Leo, you are The Revenant,” he said. “Thank you for giving your soul, your art, your life.”
In the film, DiCaprio plays a 19th century fur trapper who suffers a violent bear attack and is left for dead. Though the actor has often gone to extremes for roles (The Wolf of Wall Street, Aviator and Shutter Island, to name a few), he has said The Revenant’s attack sequences involved “some of the more difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my 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 has said of the film, which had him eating raw bison so audiences could see his “instinctive reaction” onscreen. “I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.”
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