“I think the thing off the top of my head might be, ‘It’s about f*cking time,'” jokes Sam Elliott, in the wake of his first ever Oscar nomination this morning for his supporting role in Warner Bros’ A Star Is Born. “Beyond that, it’s really about the work; it’s just about the creative process. It’s great to be recognized for that, that’s really all it’s about.”

Joking aside, Elliott has a point about the timing. Since beginning his career in 1969 with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, he’s gained somewhat iconic status as a mainstay of both the big and small screens, most recently having received critical acclaim for Lee Hayden’s The Hero. And yet in 50 years, he had not been nominated.

Elliott’s Best Supporting nod is one of a slew from the Academy for Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star is Born. On the list are Best Picture, Actor (Cooper), Actress (Lady Gaga) and Original Song (Gaga and Mark Ronson). As Bobby, Elliott plays brother to Cooper’s ill-fated country singer Jackson Maine, a character whose voice Cooper famously “borrowed” from Elliott.

Asked why he felt A Star is Born – this is its fourth incarnation – resonated so strongly with so many, Elliott said, “I just think it has a number of universal themes that a lot of people can tap into. The music’s one thing, that stands alone on some level, but it’s also an intricate part of the story. The love story, the love and loss. Then beyond that, it’s the addiction theme. I don’t know anybody that hasn’t had some connection, either directly or indirectly, someone in their family, or someone they love, with alcoholism or addiction. It’s just one one of the things we live with today. I think the combination of all those factors is what people have responded to.”

Elliott called this particular version of the story “beautiful,” citing cinematographer and fellow nominee Matthew Libatque’s work, and adding, “I’m so grateful to be a part of it. It’s meant everything to me. It’s been some sort of a gift in my world on a personal level.”

Elliott seems humbly surprised by the recognition. “I think my biggest takeaway is just how fortunate I am. Number one, to still be in the game, but to have an opportunity to work with two people like Bradley and Stefani (Lady Gaga), it’s just extraordinary. Fifty years into the game and all of a sudden to have anything to do with this, to be connected with a film like this, it’s just a wonderful gift.”