By Jonathon Dornbush
April 29, 2015 at 01:08 PM EDT

“Illness always wins.”

And with those three words, Michael Keaton realized his chances of a Best Actor Oscar might be slim.

Appearing on Late Show with David Letterman, Keaton described the revelation that helped the Birdman star temper his expectations about winning an Academy Award at this year’s ceremony. During an awards luncheon prior to the Oscars, an unnamed gentleman (who lauded Keaton’s performance in Birdman) explained that poor health conditions are usually what wins awards. “I thought, ‘I am so f–ked right now,'” Keaton recalled to Letterman. The conversation proved prescient, as Eddie Redmayne won this year’s Best Actor for portraying Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

Still, despite the loss of that personal award, Keaton’s film didn’t go home entirely empty handed. It won Best Picture and several other Oscars, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. And Keaton’s performance did not go entirely unnoticed during awards season either, winning at both the Golden Globes and the Independent Spirit Awards.

Watch the interview below to see hear the full story of Keaton’s interactions and how that played into his expectations at the Oscars.