Jared Leto won the first Oscar of the night at the 86th Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in Dallas Buyers Club, and gave a heartwarming acceptance speech that not only paid homage to the film and its inspirations, but also honored his family and brought recognition to victims of AIDS and war-torn areas of the world. The ceremony aired from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre in California.
Leto won his Oscar for his inspirational performance as Rayon, a transgender AIDS patient who befriends Matthew McConaughey’s real-life character Ron Woodroof in the film. Dallas Buyers Club took home three Oscars in total–Leto for Best Supporting Actor, Matthew McConaughey won for Best Actor, and a third Oscar was garnered by the film for Best Hairstyling and Makeup. This Oscar-winning role is the actor-musician-director’s first acting role in many years. He has been on sabbatical from acting while pursuing other interests.
The actor-singer-director used his Oscar win acceptance speech to give heartfelt thanks to his family, particularly his single mother who taught him how to dream big and his older brother, both of whom have always supported him. In addition, he also used his moment in the sun to draw attention to the 36 million individuals who have lost their lives to AIDS–the same fate suffered by his character, Rayon, in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto also made mention of the current civil unrest in the Ukraine and Venezuela. He encouraged the people in those regions to stay strong and keep their dreams alive and assured them they are not alone. When asked why he felt compelled to mention these events in his speech, the actor-musician responded that he and his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, just recently played in Venezuela and have shows scheduled in Ukraine in the next few weeks. The actor claimed he felt an obligation to make the best use of the moment.
When Leto went backstage after his Oscar win, he was met by a room full of reporters clamoring for interviews and photos. The actor continued to think of others ahead of himself thanking his publicist and asking if others in the room would like to handle his Oscar. He even encouraged the press to take photos of themselves holding the statue. This move was not endorsed by the Academy and an official stepped in to discourage any photos backstage, which was quickly rebuffed by the actor himself.
Leto’s Oscar win and heartwarming speech were one of the highlights of the evening. Other memorable moments from the 86th Academy Awards included seven Oscar wins for the film Gravity including Best Director, Best Picture went to 12 Years a Slave, Best Actress was captured by Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Best Supporting Actress was garnered by first-time Oscar contender Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A Slave, as well as Matthew McConaughey’s win for Best Actor. Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres kept things light and affable and managed to pull off her hosting duties effortlessly. There was even a Twitter breakdown during the broadcast and DeGeneres declared “they had done it, they broke Twitter.” Needless to say, Leto’s return to acting has been met with tremendous success and hopefully it will lead to many more roles in the future.
Opinion By Leigh Haugh