This week we celebrate mothers and the rich and varied ways they contribute to our lives. Many Academy Award-winning actors have expressed their gratitude for the love and support of their moms, acknowledging the ways they’ve cradled and fortified their developing talents. Championing their children can come in many different forms and can appear at pivotal times over the years. Here are some actors who have publicly expressed a deep appreciation for their beloved moms.

When Philip Seymour Hoffman’s mom noticed her son started taking an interest watching theater, she made sure the two of them regularly attended theater productions together. Philip was into sports back then but suffered a drawback when he injured his neck. So his mom encouraged him to join the drama club in school when he was a teenager. Philip went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his 2005 performance in Capote.

Halle Berry famously cried during the 2002 Oscars when she won Best Actress for her Monster’s Ball performance. “I want to thank my mom who’s given me the strength to fight every single day to be who I want to be and to give me the courage to dream,” she declared. Halle has shared that as a child she witnessed her mother being a victim of domestic abuse. In turn, Halle has volunteered for many years at the Jenesse Center, the oldest domestic violence program in Los Angeles.

Charlize Theron’s mother is so often remembered for killing her alcoholic husband in self-defense when Charlize was a teenager. But Charlize doesn’t want her mother to be reduced to that one event in her life. “My mother celebrates life,” Charlize says, “more than anyone else I’ve ever met.” In 2004, when Charlize’s Monster performance earned her a Best Actress Academy Award, she said to her mother, “You’ve sacrificed so much for me to be able to live here and make my dreams come true. There are no words to describe how much I love you.”

When Nicole Kidman was pregnant with her daughter, Sunday Rose, she told her mother that she was done with acting, that maintaining her career was too much, and she only wanted to devote herself to her baby. In the past, Nicole had adopted two children with her then-husband Tom Cruise due to pregnancy complications; but, this pregnancy would be the first time she was physically able to give birth. She says her mom put things in perspective for her. Nicole recounts, “My mom’s like, ‘Don’t do that. Take some time off, but don’t give it up. Keep your toe in the water because you’re going to want that as you get older. And also it’s healthy, you have a creative spirit and you’re artistic. There does have to be a place for that to be …” Nicole took her mom’s advice and agrees, “As an actor, you’re out there, you’ve got to go out there and be with people and working on scenes and working on something. It’s very fulfilling.” Nicole won an Oscar for her The Hours performance.

Leonardo DiCaprio was named “Leonardo” because the first time his mother felt him kick inside her belly was when she was admiring a Leonardo da Vinci painting while in Florence, Italy. DiCaprio was raised mostly by his mom, living in Echo Park and Los Feliz. In 2016, when DiCaprio won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his performance in The Revenant, he took his mom along as his Oscar date. He explained that he wanted her to be his date because she’d taken him on so many auditions after school while growing up. Describing himself as an “overly ambitious” child who was determined to be an actor, he deeply appreciates how she  “listened to a young child’s dreams.”

Denzel Washington has said he believes his mother saved him from going to prison during his teen years–a time when he admits he was experimenting with mischief. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd, and so his mom enrolled him in a private school in the ninth grade. While those three friends of Denzel’s would each go on to spend significant time in jail, Washington went on to win two Oscars–one for Training Day and the other for Glory. And when Denzel goes home to visit his mom, ready to receive praise for his acting achievements, he loves her all the more when she sets him straight by telling him to take out the trash.

How did your mom influence your path to acting? Happy Mother’s Day!

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