The 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place on Jan. 30, 2016, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Here is what this Screen Actors Guild Award winner said backstage in the Screen Actors Guild Awards press room.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Leo, since you’re an environmentalist, did it mean something to you to film “The Revenant” in that area and how the movie portrayed indigenous people?
Absolutely. I can go on and on about that subject matter, but we shot at high altitudes in Calgary. The weather conditions were unprecedented. We had the fluctuations from hot to cold. The locals had told us they’d never had weather extremes like that since they’ve there.
And then you realize that 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history. December  was the hottest December in recorded history. The weather is dramatically changing. We had to go to the southern tip of Argentina to be able to find snow to complete the film. I know Mr. [Quentin] Tarantino had a similar problem with his film [“The Hateful Eight”]. It was very eye-opening.
I was simultaneously doing a film about climate change — a documentary. I’ve been filming all over the world, from Greenland to China to India. We’re in the process of changing our climate for tens of thousands if not millions of years, at this moment.
So this is a very significant turning point for me to witness it firsthand while doing this movie [“The Revenant”] and simultaneously doing the documentary. It’s absolutely terrifying. And I hopefully, I’ll be able to complete this documentary in the next few months and show people my journey and understanding more about the issue of climate change and give people some of that knowledge.
What does mean to you to have this group of people [SAG-AFTRA members] give you this trophy?
I tried to articulate it in my speech, in the sense that I just have so much respect for this art form. As I said, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Any young actor I speak to, when they ask me what my career was like, how I started, it was by watching movies.
It’s by watching what has been accomplished in our past. It’s a thirst that’s never quenched. When you see a great film and a great performance, you’re always striving to get somewhere close to what you remembered as a child. And so, this [SAG Award] coming from my fellow actors, it means a great deal. It really means a great deal to me.
What was your first acting role, and what did you learn from it?
It was a Matchbox car commercial, and I played a little gangster with slicked-back hair. What did I learn from it? I was just so incredibly nervous.
What do I remember the most? The lesson I learned from it was just to know your lines. Really, get that over with, because once you learn your lines, then you can settle into all the other moments in a scene. That’s the other piece of advice I give actors when I talk to them.
Leo, if you could pick one song to describe how you feel right now, what would it be?
Oh, boy! That’s a lot of pressure. I want to scoot off and come back and tell you that. I’ve got to get a minute to think of that one. It’s not going to come off the top of my head. I’ll get it to you though.
For more info: Screen Actors Guild Awards website
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