"Leonardo DiCaprio, Oscar winner" has a nice ring to it.
Perhaps no one has been waiting to hear those four words in succession more than the man himself, who took home the award for Best Actor at the 2016 Oscars Sunday. DiCaprio was honored for his work in The Revenant, beating fellow nominees Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).
After delivering his acceptance speech, DiCaprio spoke to reporters backstage about how it felt to finally win an Academy Award after receiving his first nomination 22 years ago. "I felt very honored, quite frankly," the actor, 41, said. "This whole thing has been an amazing experience."
DiCaprio has been nominated for six Academy Awards—five for acting and one for producing—and confessed he was "grateful" to see so many people rooting for him to win. "It all feels incredibly surreal. You know, it's surreal because you can't reach out and physically meet everybody. You hear it on the Internet, you hear it from other people, and, you know, the truth is, we always strive for the best in what we do," he said. "But this year in particular, I've been overwhelmed with such support—really, truly, by so many fans and so many people in the industry. It's quite shocking, actually. And what can you say except I'm very grateful? I really am."
The Revenant won three of its 12 nominations, including Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu) and Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki). In both DiCaprio and Iñárritu's eyes, more stories like The Revenant need to be told.
"I grew up in East Los Angeles. I was very close to the Hollywood studio system, but I felt detached from it my whole life. And to have had parents that have allowed me to be a part of this industry, to take me on auditions every day after school, and to tell stories like this has been my dream ever since I was 4 years old...This film to me was exemplary in the sense that I got to work with a director," DiCaprio said. "And all the things we spoke about off camera during the making of this movie transferred their way on screen. This was true storytelling. We really got to have a collaborative experience together, and this was a journey that I'll never forget with Alejandro. It took up such a large portion of our lives, but as a result, we have a great film to look back on for years to come."