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Leonardo DiCaprio wins his first Oscar ever for 'Revenant' role

It finally happened! Leonard DiCaprio has his Oscar.

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Leonardo DiCaprio wins first Oscar as Hollywood faces issue of race

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On Sunday night, the star accepted the Best Actor honor for his riveting performance as frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass in "The Revenant," beating out the stiff competition from Bryan Cranston ("Trumbo"), Matt Damon ("The Martian), Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl") and Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs").

After recognizing his fellow nominees, DiCaprio thanked friends, family, cast mates and "everyone from the onset of my career."

He then moved on to a bigger issue one very close to his heart: the environment and the impact of climate change.

RELATED: Leo and Kate walk Oscars red carpet together — and everyone lost their chill

"Making 'The Revenant' was about man's relationship with the natural world, a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history," he explained. "Our production moved to the southern tip of this planet just to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species."

He urged everyone to support leaders who support the planet.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio accepts the Best Actor award for 'The Revenant' onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

"Let us not take this planet for granted," he told the crowd who gave him a standing ovation. "I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much."

This win was a long time coming for DiCaprio.

Oscar buzz first focused on him when he was still a teen, after his big screen breakout performance in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (1993). Since then he's been nominated and favored for leading roles in "The Aviator" (2005), "Blood Diamond" (2001) and "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2014).

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    1990

    Leonardo DiCaprio as Garry Buckman in the TV series "Parenthood," based on the movie of the same name.

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    1991

    DiCaprio's career really began on television, with his role as Luke in the sitcom "Growing Pains," starting in 1991. His character was a homeless boy taken in by the lead family, the Seavers. Here, Mike (Kirk Cameron) and Ben (Jeremy Miller) console DiCaprio's character as he prepares for his first day of high school.

    ABC
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    1993

    DiCaprio played writer Tobias Wolff, with Robert De Niro playing Wolff's stepfather, in 1993's "This Boy's Life." DiCaprio and De Niro would reunite just three years later in 1996's "Marvin's Room."

    Everett Collection
  • The life and times of Leonardo DiCaprio: A look back at the star's career

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    1993

    DiCaprio first came to the attention of many critics and fans when he starred in 1993's "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," adapted by Peter Hedges from Hedges' 1991 novel. DiCaprio played mentally disabled Arnie, who lives with his overweight mother, two sisters and frustrated caretaker brother, Gilbert (Johnny Depp).

    Everett Collection
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    1995

    In 1995, DiCaprio played author and punk musician Jim Carroll in the film version of Carroll's autobiographical book, "The Basketball Diaries." While the book recounts Carroll's growing-up years in the 1960s, it was adjusted to the 1990s to fit DiCaprio and the era of the film.

    New Line Cinema
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    1996

    DiCaprio, as Romeo, charms Juliet (Claire Danes) in 1996's "Romeo + Juliet." The film took the famed Shakespeare play and set it in a fictional modern city, giving the warring Montagues and Capulets competing business empires and upgrading their swords to guns with brand names such as "Dagger" and "Rapier."

    Everett Collection
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    1997

    In the James Cameron-directed mega-hit "Titanic" in 1997, DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play doomed lovers from different social classes who fall in love aboard the mighty ship's lone voyage. The two actors would later reunite as a doomed married couple in 2008's "Revolutionary Road."

    Paramount Pictures
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    1998

    DiCaprio was just 24 when he graced the cover of People's "50 Most Beautiful People" issue.

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    1998

    In 1998's "The Man in the Iron Mark," DiCaprio played King Louis XIV of France as well as the king's identical twin, Philippe. The famed Three Musketeers rescue the masked Philippe and fight to put him on the throne in the place of his evil twin brother.

    United Artist Films
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    2000

    In 2000's "The Beach," based on the Alex Garland novel, DiCaprio plays a backpacker who learns of an island paradise where a group of young people live secretly without formal governments and laws. Not surprisingly, it ends badly.

    20th Century Fox
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    2001

    DiCaprio and Robert De Niro performed onstage at "The Concert for New York City," held just a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York.

    Getty Images
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    2002

    In "Gangs of New York," DiCaprio, seen with co-star Daniel Day-Lewis, plays the son of a murdered gang leader who swears vengeance upon the man who killed his father.

    Miramax Films
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    In 2002's lively "Catch Me If You Can," DiCaprio played real-life con man Frank Abagnale, who posed as a pilot, doctor, lawyer and FBI agent at various times during his life.

    DreamWorks Pictures
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    DiCaprio poses with director Martin Scorsese and his "Gangs of New York" co-star Cameron Diaz at the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 20, 2002.

    AFP-Getty Images
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    2004

    Always politically active, DiCaprio made the rounds on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry in 2004. Here he appeared at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, urging students to vote.

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    2004

    To play Hughes in "The Aviator," DiCaprio had to portray the aviation pioneer and business tycoon from his youthful days as a daring pilot until his sad and reclusive final days and death at age 70.

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    2005

    While DiCaprio didn't take home an Oscar for his "Aviator" role, he did collect the Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a drama on Jan. 16, 2005.

    Getty Images
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    2005

    DiCaprio and Tom Hanks appeared during the taping of the "Earth to America!" television special at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2005.

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    2005

    Before she wed and had a son with quarterback Tom Brady, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen dated DiCaprio. They attended the Academy Awards together on Feb. 27, 2005, in Los Angeles. DiCaprio was nominated for best actor for his role as Howard Hughes in "The Aviator," but lost out to Jamie Foxx's starring role as Ray Charles in "Ray."

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    Award nominations and recognition flooded in for DiCaprio's performance in 2006's "The Departed," where the young actor held his own against veteran Jack Nicholson.

    Warner Bros.
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    DiCaprio, "Departed" co-star Vera Farmiga and director Martin Scorsese posed for pictures at the Rome film festival on Oct. 15, 2006.

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    In 2006's "Blood Diamond," DiCaprio played a smuggler who specializes in the sale of conflict diamonds, the precious stones used to finance rebellions, privateers and terrorists.

    Warner Bros.
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    In 2008, DiCaprio starred as a CIA officer chasing terrorists in Iraq in "Body of Lies."

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    2008

    DiCaprio starred with Kate Winslet in "Revolutionary Road," based on the novel by Richard Yates. Time magazine named the book one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. The film reunited DiCaprio and Winslet, who were loved by millions in 1997 as ill-fated "Titanic" lovers Jack and Rose.

    Paramount Village
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    DiCaprio arrives at the European premiere of his 2008 film "Revolutionary Road" at Leicester Square, London, on Jan. 18, 2009. He plays a suburban 1950s husband whose life meets with tragedy when he and his wife cannot realize their dreams.

    Getty Images
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    DiCaprio and his girlfriend, Israeli model Bar Rafaeli, attend a game between the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Jan. 18, 2010, in Los Angeles. DiCaprio is that rare figure among Hollywood actors — a native Angeleno.

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    Robert De Niro, DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson were among the Hollywood stars answering donation phone calls at the Hope For Haiti Now telethon on Jan. 22, 2010, in Los Angeles.

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    DiCaprio, center, poses with his "Inception" co-stars Marion Cotillard, right, and Ellen Page at the premiere of the film at Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on July 13, 2010.

    Reuters
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    Warner Bros.
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    DiCaprio, here posing at the premiere of "J. Edgar," likes playing enigmatic characters. "When I can't immediately define the character, and there's an element of mystery to it and still a lot to be explored, that's when I say yes," says the actor.

    Reuters
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    DiCaprio looked dapper in black tie at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 15, 2012. He was nominated for best actor for his role in "J. Edgar," but lost to George Clooney, who starred in "The Descendants."

    Getty Images
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    In "Django Unchained," DiCaprio plays a cruel plantation owner, Calvin Candie, who stages fights to the death between his slaves.

    The Weinstein Company
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    DiCaprio attends a screening of "Django Unchained" in New York on Dec. 11, 2012. The actor said that the role, in which he must mistreat slaves, made him uncomfortable, but he knew he had to take it.

    Getty Images
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    Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan his beloved Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann's 2013 film of F. Scott Fitzgerald's famed novel.

    Warner Bros.
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    Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in a scene from "The Wolf of Wall Street." The movie is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

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    Actors Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio attends "The Wolf Of Wall Street" world premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York on Dec. 17, 2013..

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    Moderator Brian Rose, director Martin Scorsese and actor Leonardo DiCaprio attend the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Official Academy Members screening of 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in New York on December 18, 2013.

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    Leonardo DiCaprio is named UN Messenger Of Peace by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations on September 20, 2014 in New York City. 

    AP
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    Leonardo DiCaprio speaks at the Solutions Project garden party at La Plaza Cultural on June 18, 2015, in New York. DiCaprio helped launch a campaign aimed at making energy from renewable sources available to everyone — and making it affordable. He spent much of the last few years toward environmental and animal conservation efforts.

    AP
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    The life and times of Leonardo DiCaprio: A look back at the star's career

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    Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Revenant." While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home to his beloved family. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him. The movie received numerous award nominations and wins, including winning three Golden Globes, for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, and Best Actor – Drama, as well as a nomination for Best Original Score. 

    20th Century Fox
  • Leonardo DiCaprio

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    Leonardo DiCaprio poses in the press room with the award for best actor in a motion picture - drama for “The Revenant” at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 10, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California.

    AP
  • Image: Pope Francis receives Leonardo DiCaprio

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    Pope Francis and Leonardo DiCaprio exchange gifts at the Vatican on January 28, 2016.  Leonardo DiCaprio had a private audience with the Pope at the Vatican, where they discussed their passion for the environment. "Your Holiness, thank you for granting me this private audience with you," DiCaprio said in Italian as he arrived in the Apostolic Palace and kissed the pope's ring.

    Osservatore Romano via EPA

When the now-winner spoke to TODAY about his Oscar odds last month, he said the award is "beyond your control." And while he knew he would appreciate such an honor and the recognition of his peers if it came his way, he wasn't in the movie-making business for that.

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How Leonardo DiCaprio aims to be ‘a happy artist’ (it’s not with awards)

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How Leonardo DiCaprio aims to be ‘a happy artist’ (it’s not with awards)

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"I know it's a cliché, but the truth is it's ultimately not why you do these films," he told Willie Geist. "You do them because if you love the art form — and cinema to me is the great modern art form — you can look back one day and say, 'I did that piece of work, and I gave it everything I could while I was there.' And if you have enough of those later on in life, you're a happy artist."

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Now, with a gold statuette in addition to all of that, he just has one more reason to be happy.

RELATED: It's awards time! See the complete list of this year's Oscars winners

But long before the award was handed out, it was clear that win or lose, it would a big night for DiCaprio. That's because he saw the ceremony as more than a winning opportunity.

It was a landmark for him and his always-supportive family.

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DiCaprio, who brought his mother along as his date, stopped on the red carpet before the show got underway and spoke about the personal side of his road to stardom.

"I grew up in East Los Angeles, and my parents took me to auditions every day after school," he said. "They listened to me. You know, they listened to this kid who was overly ambitious and said he wanted to be an actor. ... They listened to a young child's dreams, and I could never be more thankful."

Talk about winning!

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