Bruce Dern will never forget the moment he got the much-anticipated news that he'd won the plum part of Woody Grant, a delusional drinker in 2013's black-and-white film Nebraska.

"The best day of my life was when director Alexander Payne told me I had the role," Bruce shares with Closer. "He was right in front of me and admitted, 'When I sat down to write this 10 years ago, I had you in mind to do it.'"

It was the role of a lifetime for the 78-year-old, who confesses he devoured the entire script in 50 minutes.

"I read it that fast because there was no mistaking this was something special," he explains. "I mean, I pulled my oar for 50-odd years, and I've been in good films and everything, but I've never had a part that just hit me immediately, like, 'This is something I can do!'"

So how did he celebrate? "I was delighted," says Bruce with a smile. "I told my banker that I would be making some money later in the year!"

As for the accolades that came later, that included an Oscar nomination and the Best Actor award at Cannes — "which shocked even me," he says —Bruce is just happy he got to be apart of the project.

"Having seen the material a long time ago, I knew how good and special it was," he shares. "[Alexander] hasn't missed yet."