Ale Russian and Mike Miller
March 04, 2018 08:40 PM

Sam Rockwell took home the Best Supporting Actor trophy at the 90th Annual Academy Awards and dedicated it to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri actor sweetly gave the late Hoffman a shoutout at the end of his speech. “This is for my old buddy, Phil Hoffman,” he said.

In the press room backstage, the actor elaborated on why he gave Hoffman the shoutout.

“He was an old friend of mine. He directed me in a play for public theater. He was very close to me and an inspiration to all of my peers,” he said. “People like Jeffrey Wright, Billy Crudup, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin — whoever was in my age range, Phil Hoffman was the guy.”

He continued, “He was a great director, he believed in theater. He vowed to do a play a year, which I’m not sure he got to do, he was very busy doing movies. But he was a great inspiration and a great theater director. He was also a bit of a jock, he was a wrestler, he played basketball. He inspired me and I could go on for an hour about Phil Hoffman. He was a good friend and a huge, huge inspiration on me.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sam Rockwell
Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan/Getty

Rockwell also told a funny story from his childhood about his dad.

“I’d like to thank the Academy, I never thought I’d get to say those words,” he said. “When I was 8 years old i was called into the principal’s office and my dad was there looking very solemn and said, ‘We gotta go, it’s grandma.’ When we got in the car I asked what was wrong with grandma and he said, ‘Nothing, we’re going to the movies.’ ”

The actor then said that his love of movies came from his mom and dad and took a moment to thank his longtime girlfriend Leslie Bibb.

“You light my fire, baby. I love you,” Rockwell said.

This was Rockwell’s first Oscar nomination for his work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The actor was up against his Three Billboards co-star Woody Harrelson as well as Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project, Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water and Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World.

Kevin Winter/Getty


Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Academy Awards coverage to get the latest news on Hollywood’s big night.

Rockwell previously won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for the same role. Last year’s Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis presented the award.

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The 2018 Oscars were held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and were telecast live on ABC.

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