After four previous nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won a best actor Oscar for his performance in The Revenant. Fans and critics alike have expected DiCaprio to win each time he was nominated in the past 23 years. Instead, the Hollywood actor’s Oscar nominations have turned into one of the longest running jokes in the industry. When DiCaprio took to the stage to present his acceptance speech, though, he didn’t mention this. What he did was seize the moment to tackle climate change in front of millions of people watching the Academy Awards, calling it ‘the most existential crisis our civilization has ever known.’
“Climate change is real,” he began. “It is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world… who speak for all of humanity.
“I thank you all for this. Let us not take this planet for granted – I do not take tonight for granted,” he capped, to rapturous applause from the evidently ecstatic crowd.
The actor runs the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation, which is dedicated to the “long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants.” Previously, DiCaprio held another high profile speech in front of the U.N. assembly, also addressing the urgency of tackling climate change.
Backstage, DiCaprio spoke about the underlying motivation behind his speech.
“To not only talk about the film, but to be able to talk about climate change on a platform that hundreds of millions of people are watching … to say this is the most existential crisis our civilisation has ever known – I wanted to speak out about that. The time is now. It’s imperative we act.”
“I feel there is a ticking clock, there is a sense of urgency that we all must do something pro-active about this issue,” he added. “Certainly with this upcoming election, the truth is this: if you 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. We need to all join together and vote for leaders who care about the future of this civilisation.”
It’s refreshing to hear a celebrity raise important issues on TV. For this — and being a moving performer, not the least — we’re very much in your debt, Mr. DiCaprio.