Leonardo DiCaprio uses Best Actor Oscar speech to draw attention to climate change

DiCaprio won the 2016 Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the film 'The Revenant.' 'Climate change is real,' the actor said during his acceptance speech. 'It is happening right now.'

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Leonardo DiCaprio accepts the Oscar for best actor for his role in 'The Revenant.'

"The Revenant” actor Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar for Best Actor after having been nominated several times before and DiCaprio used a large amount of his time onstage to draw attention to climate change. 

DiCaprio had previously been nominated for several other Oscars, including a Best Actor nomination for his work in the 2006 movie “Blood Diamond” and a nod for his producing work on the 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” 

He won his Academy Award for playing Hugh Glass, a real-life figure who was injured by a bear in the wilderness and had to survive in difficult conditions.

During the beginning of his speech, DiCaprio mentioned, among other topics, the film in which he appeared and his director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

“ 'The Revenant' was the product of the tireless efforts of an unbelievable cast and crew I got to work alongside,” the actor said. “…Mr. Alejandro Iñárritu, as the history of cinema unfolds, you have forged your way into history these past 2 years.”

DiCaprio then brought up the topic of climate change, mentioning the trouble those behind “Revenant” had in finding an area with snow to be able to film the movie. 

“Climate change is real," the actor said. "It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would 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.”

Those who are familiar with the actor know that this is far from the first time DiCaprio has asked for action on climate change. The actor co-founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which attempts to help those working in that arena, in 1998 and produced the 2007 climate documentary "The 11th Hour." Last month, the actor discussed the topic with Pope Francis. He also appeared before the UN climate summit in 2014 to ask for a move forward on the topic. 

“As an actor I pretend for a living,” DiCaprio said. “I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe humankind has looked at climate change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet… This is the most urgent of times, and the most urgent of messages.” 

The cause has been one that has been close to the actor’s heart for some time, as The Christian Science Monitor's Maud Dillingham noted in 2011, “DiCaprio… is well-known for his commitment to saving the planet. He flies on commercial planes rather than private jets, and reportedly has solar panels on his house. He bought a Toyota Prius in 2006. Last year, DiCaprio was plugging the [electric sports car the] Tesla Roadster.”

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