Mexican actor Demian Bichir hopes his surprise Oscar nod for "A Better Life" will raise awareness about the 11 million undocumented migrants in the United States.

Though little-known north of the border, the Mexican star beat out Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling for the nomination, placing him in competition with Hollywood titans George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Bichir told reporters in Mexico City on Wednesday that "now more people will know who I am," -- but drawing attention to the difficulties faced by undocumented workers in the United States would be the "real prize", he added.

He expressed hope that "A Better Life" -- the story of a father trying to protect his son from the gang culture and immigration policing of Los Angeles -- would do for illegal migrants what "Philadelphia", the 1993 AIDS drama starring Tom Hanks, did for the gay community in America.

"The main hope is that more people will see the movie and learn about the 11 million undocumented people in the United States, who are invisible to Americans," he said.

The 48-year-old Mexican star is best known in the United States for his protrayal of Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh's "Che" (2008), and for a turn as a Mexican drug kingpin on the television series "Weeds".