Bridge of Spies star Mark Rylance may now be an Oscar winner, after taking home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on Sunday, but for most of his career he’s preferred to work on stage, not screen.

“I love going to films more than being in them,” he said, sitting down with PEOPLE and EW at the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, the morning after his win.

Still, it was his love of the stage that helped him land the role that would win him an Oscar. After Steven Spielberg saw Rylance on Broadway in Twelfth Night — a production that netted Rylance his third Tony Award — the director offered him the role of Cold War spy Rudolf Abel, and the actor, 56, reconsidered his self-imposed moratorium on movie roles. “I would work with Steven no matter what medium he did,” Rylance said. (Another future Spielberg collaboration pushed Rylance even further out of his element: He recently donned a motion capture suit to star as the titular Big Friendly Giant in the upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.).

Rylance’s decision to sign on for Bridge of Spies and dive back into film roles earned him Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars, and while the BAFTA winner is no stranger to awards shows, he couldn’t help but get emotional backstage. “It reminds you of all the times as a kid in Wisconsin, watching this ceremony,” he said. “To be part of this is astounding.”

Reporting by Mary Green.

Bridge of Spies
2015 movie
  • Movie
  • 141 minutes