Updated 4:14 p.m., March 3
WASHINGTON — Actor Jared Leto expressed his support for protesters in Ukraine and Venezuela during his acceptance speech for the Best Supporting Actor award at the Oscars on Sunday, making him the first celebrity at the event to acknowledge the two major events dominating world news right now.
"To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight, in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say we are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we're thinking of you tonight," Leto said.
In the press room backstage after accepting his award, Leto explained his decision to comment on Ukraine and Venezuela.
"Number one, because it's important to me," Leto said. "Number two, because I think it's appropriate to the material, to the story, to the film. And number three, because you have an opportunity when you stand on this stage. You can make it about yourself or you can hold up a mirror and shine a light, and that's what I chose to do tonight. I mean, because of Thirty Seconds to Mars, because I'm in a band, how many people are here from outside of the — of the USA? Quite a few of you. Okay. Good. I'm at home then. But I feel at home all over the world. And you know, for me, these global issues impact us in a really direct way."
"We have a show in the Ukraine in a couple of weeks," Leto said. "We have a show in Thailand in a few weeks. We had a show in Venezuela in the works. So, these things, social unrest, you know, social issues like this affect us in a really immediate way. So, I felt on behalf of the people that I interact with on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook, and my own interests as, you know, a global — being a person in a global band, it was important to address those things."
The Oscars are taking place as the Crimea region of Ukraine spirals into crisis following a military incursion by Russia on the pretext of protecting Ukraine's Russian speakers. Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country after pro-European protesters held sustained demonstrations in protest of his decision to draw his country closer to Russia.
Russian state TV network Channel One, which normally plays the Oscars live, is not showing them live this year — a move that Channel One said in a statement was intended to give the channel more space for Ukraine news, though it also has the effect of preventing Russian viewers from seeing moments like Leto's speech. According to AFP's Moscow Correspondent, when the broadcast was shown after the fact, Leto's comments were dubbed over to remove mention of Ukraine.
In Venezuela, half of the viewing audience were blocked from accessing the broadcast because private channel Venevision decided not to show it this year. It was shown on cable, which many Venezuelans cannot afford.
With reporting by Adam B. Vary.
Updated to reflect the official transcript of Leto's remarks in the press room and with information about the availability of the Oscars broadcast in Venezuela.