SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – On the heels of an Oscar nomination, "The Aviator" star Leonardo DiCaprio (search) wrapped a high-flying week by accepting the Platinum Award (search) from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (search).
The award, created to commemorate the festival's 20th anniversary, was given Sunday night in recognition of the actor's "exceptional career," festival director Roger Durling said.
DiCaprio's arrival elicited screams from hundreds of fans — a festival first, Durling said. Being greeted in such a way "is kind of like an out-of-body experience," DiCaprio, who plays Howard Hughes in the movie, told Associated Press Television News.
"It's a lifetime achievement award, which is completely and utterly surreal, given I'm only 30 years old," he continued, with a laugh. "But, you know, what has it been? Almost 17 years now. I've done quite a few films. But what's really exciting, for me, is that this is what I really love doing. It's what I want to do for the rest of my life."
The award was presented by Martin Scorsese, who directed DiCaprio in the Hughes biopic, 2002's "Gangs of New York" and the upcoming crime drama "The Departed," also starring Matt Damon.
"We've had some good luck together," Scorsese said. "There's an understanding between us, I think, even though I'm 32 years older. We seem to have a similar kind of interest in subject matter, detail, emotional and psychological impact."
Jane Russell, who starred in Hughes' 1943 film, "The Outlaw," said she was impressed by DiCaprio's quest for authenticity.
DiCaprio spent a full day with Russell, now 83, before filming started.
"It's too bad most of the books on Howard ... the person has never met him, didn't know him at all, and is just copying a lot of the other books," Russell said. "So, I was very happy that (DiCaprio) came and cared to come up and find out what (Hughes) was really like. I told him that Howard was very polite and quiet. He was stubborn, he wanted his own way, but it was always nice."
Once inside the auditorium, DiCaprio sat down for a two-hour career retrospective.
His screen credits include "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (1993), "This Boy's Life" (1993), "Titanic" (1997) and "Catch Me If You Can" (2002).