The 88th Annual Academy Awards took place on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Here is what these Oscar winners said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.
ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU
Alejandro, what does it mean to win an Oscar for Best Director two years in a row?
Alejandro González Iñárritu: Well, I couldn’t be more happy. Every film is like a son. So you cannot like more one son than the other. I love this film as I loved “Birdman,” and I think this experience and sharing this with Leo and with all the nominees, part of the crew that we are celebrating tonight. I think the award that I’m getting is on behalf of all of them and they make possible. So I couldn’t be more happy, especially because we are celebrating tonight, and that’s fantastic.
Could we say that the movie is also for Mexico and for Argentina since it’s your country and you did the movie also in Argentina?
González Iñárritu: All the crews were amazing, and obviously the people in Argentina were fantastic. We have a great time there.
What do you guys love about being storytellers?
DiCaprio: Look, 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. And this film to me was exemplary in the sense that I got to work with a director.
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, you know, such a large portion of our lives, but as a result, we have a great film to look back on for years to come.
González Iñárritu: For me, it just basically I think that life is so uncontrollable. I think we are all the time, you know, it’s impermanent, everything. And I think that storytelling is a way for us to feel, in a way, can confront a huge amount of emotions and possibilities and feel, you know, beautiful and horrible emotions, but always in a way being in a comfortable zone knowing there is another story that can teach us a lot.
So it’s a way to control life, to have an oxygen capsule of life without suffering for real, that can teach us for when the time comes, for being in love or do we have a problem, we can suddenly get what is that idea. So storytelling is, I think, oxygen for life that protect us. You know, that’s how I feel.
Where are you going to put that Oscar?
González Iñárritu: I will be [places Oscar on head] all day.
DiCaprio: It’s incredible that two outsiders like Chivo [Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki] and Alejandro that came from Mexico, came to our industry, were firm in their beliefs artistically, and here we have a two time winner at the Academy Awards and Chivo a three time winner. I am so proud to be working with these guys. These guys represent everything about what this industry is and what it should be. I just want to congratulate you guys. It’s awesome.
González Iñárritu: Thank you, Leo.
What else did you want to say in your acceptance speech that before you were interrupted by the music?
González Iñárritu: Well, I think the question is that he wanted me to extend in what I said in the stage where I was being interrupted by music, but anyway, I want to say what I want to say, which is something that is absurd. I think the debate is not only about black and white people. I think diversity really includes … That now is Oscar so brown or what? I think we are yellow and Native Americans and Latin Americans.
So the complexity of the society of the world is much more than one or the other. I think it’s becoming a little bit very polarized, very politicized, without observing the complexity and the beautiful of how being this country’s so mixed, as my country which is mixed, but this is a multi mixed country. That is the real power of it. So anyway, what I am super impressed about is that still we are dragging this tribal thinking with this.
I think one of the problems that we are suffering is there is no moderate platforms to talk about something deeply, very important, that in a way it’s deciding the destinies of people around the world — by the color of their skin, so that we are still dragging those prejudices and tribal thinking at this time. It seems to me absolutely absurd.
In the ‘50s, I remember that the people that have long hair, the Beatles were considered like, “Oh, my God, I will never.” You know, and that was so stupid that now we laugh about it. Why we cannot get rid of those prejudices about the color of the skin is completely irrelevant. Anyway, that is what I wanted to say. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I say it.
Congratulations to both of you. Leo, especially, it’s finally happened. You finally won an Oscar. Everyone was cheering in the room here when you won. How was the atmosphere in the room at the ceremony? How does it feel now that it’s a reality and what would you remember as the biggest challenge of this film?
DiCaprio: I felt very honored, quite frankly. This whole thing has been an amazing experience. And for me to be able to sit there and not only talk about the film, but to talk about something that I’ve been duly as obsessed with besides cinema, and that’s, you know, our environment and climate change.
To be able to speak about that in a platform of, I don’t know, hundreds of millions of people that are watching this, to me, like I said, this is the most existential crisis our civilization has ever known, and I wanted to speak out about that tonight because, simultaneously while doing this brilliant film that Alejandro directed, I’ve been doing a documentary about climate change which has brought me to Greenland, to China, to India to speak with the world’s leading experts on this issue. And the time is now.
It’s imperative that we act. I feel so overwhelmed with gratitude for what happened tonight, but I feel there is a ticking clock out there. There’s a sense of urgency that we all must do something proactive about this issue. And certainly with this upcoming election, the truth is this: If you have do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in modern science or empirical truths and you will be on the wrong side of history. And we need to all join together and vote for leaders who care about the future of this civilization and the world as we know it.
Leo, congratulations. It’s been such a long time coming, and it seems like the whole world is rooting for you. Are you conscious of how many people are supporting you? How does it feel that people care so much that you get this Oscar? And for Alejandro, how does it feel to be the director who finally did this for Leo?
DiCaprio: 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 the truth is, we always strive for the best in what we do.
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.
González Iñárritu: And I want to say that it’s funny because the conception how a film is being made, I think, is wrong. This is an intervening collaboration. You know, everything is connected. So when Chivo won, we all won, because what Chivo photographed was the wardrobe, was the makeup, was the performance of Leo, was the ideas of the original. When I won, everybody won.
So, I mean, all of the actors, everything. Leo won by himself. But we are absolutely interdependent, we depend on the other. So every award of every film, honestly, it’s funny enough, as everything in life is, interconnected and it reflects the effort of hundreds of people.
So that’s what is amazing about today, that the awards that we won, it is celebrated by all the team no matter if somebody won or not. And truly, that’s very true, when you work for months with a team like that, you know, that we were basically part of the success of any territory. We were all involved in anything.
For more info: Academy Awards website
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