Leonardo DiCaprio is a world-famous and critically respected actor. And yet, rather infamously, he has never won an Academy Award.
Now he may have his chance: A group of filmmakers from Russia's far east have hatched a plan to help the Hollywood star finally get his own Oscar.
Unfortunately for Leo, the "Oscar" in question it is not an actual Academy Award. Instead, it will be a homemade effort created by the filmmakers themselves, dubbed the "Yakut Oscar" in honor of the region from which it originates (the organizers say they will eventually come up with a better name). The statuette will be awarded to the American actor whether he wins an Academy Award for his starring role in the film "The Revenant" or not.
Tatiana Yegorova, a lecturer at the Arctic Institute of Arts and Culture and creator of the initiative, told state news agency Ria Novosti that the group has been receiving donations of cash and that they expect that the silver and gold statue will cost about 100,000 rubles to create – roughly $1,300 or so. Approximately 100 or so people in Yakutia have donated so far, the organizers say.
There's a hint of spirituality to the project. Yegorova told Ria Novosti that some women have donated their own jewelry to the project, but those who bring jewelry to donate are being encouraged to keep half, so that "one half will be with Leonardo DiCaprio and one half with them." This would make them "somehow connected with the actor," she continued. According to the TASS news agency, another state news agency, the statuette will look pretty similar to the traditional Oscar, but it will be holding a "Choron," a three-legged goblet that symbolizes peace, rather than a sword.
This isn't the first time that DiCaprio has been offered an alternative figurine from his Russian fans. In 2014, when DiCaprio missed out on the Best Actor award for his part in "The Wolf of Wall Street," a group of actors in the city of Chelyabinsk created a cast-iron statue of a bodybuilder that locals had dubbed "Ascar." It is unclear, however, whether DiCaprio ever actually received the item.
By now, DiCaprio's persistent lack of an Oscar has become well known and, to a degree, sympathized with all over the world – his chances for the 2016 awards recently became a hot topic on Chinese social media, for example. However, the actor is widely perceived to have a special link to Russia. DiCaprio's maternal grandmother was Russian, and the actor has referred to himself as "half Russian" in interviews. President Vladimir Putin personally met the Hollywood star in St. Petersburg in 2010 and dubbed him a "real man" for pledging $1 million to help save tigers, a project close to the heart of the Russian leader.
Russian interest in DiCaprio has spiked recently due to a number of reports in the Russian media that the American actor will play Putin in an upcoming film. These rumors – which have been denied by the filmmakers – followed comments from the actor himself, wherein he suggested he would "love" to play Putin and that he found the Russian leader "very, very, very interesting."
The Russian state has shown interest in cultivating Western celebrities in the past, though generally the ones who have been receptive to the offers have been older and a little further from the peak of their careers: Actor Gerard Depardieu, action star Steven Seagal, and former five-time world boxing champion Roy Jones Jr., for example.
Perhaps that's why the interest in DiCaprio is so high, but there are also signs that the Russian attention can be a little self-deprecating. When someone recently discovered a photograph of a man in the Russian armed forces remarkably similar to DiCaprio, one user of social network VK joked that after losing out on yet another Academy Award, the American actor had chosen to move to "the only country which truly appreciates talent people."
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