Ang Lee likely woke up this morning knowing his critically acclaimed 3D epic "Life of Pi" would earn a number of key Academy Awards nominations.  Speaking to HitFix earlier today, the helmer of of such classics as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Brokeback Mountain" admitted that he wasn't expecting "Pi" to land a mammoth 11 nominations.

"Way more than I thought," Lee says with a chuckle. "I was surprised. It was a good surprise."

Lee continues, "I'm happy for all of them. They are all my friends. They give their heart and soul into this thing. So, everyone is good. Some were unexpected like sound. There was no indication that sound mixing and sound editing would happen. So, that's great. I was anxious to see the writer, editor who worked very hard and music. I hope at least they would get in. Effects was pretty sure, would get in. (Laughs.)"

The 58-year-old director spent four years making "Pi," a picture that many wondered could work cinematically let alone find an audience. Sometime this weekend, however, "Pi" should cross the $400 million mark worldwide. It's been a study of studio 20th Century Fox having faith in their film, patience with it finding an audience and, honestly, a lot of luck.

"First of all, it could be a strange movie. You don't know where it's going," Lee says. "So, just making the movie it was really worth it as an experience. All of us - the whole company - have been working on this movie for four years, so everything else is bonus.  Especially because it's a slow moving process. It took awhile before [box office] picked up, so it's even more rewarding is that the movie speaks for itself and it prevailed. People went to see it and now the nominations. It's a very slow process. That's the thing with this movie. Everything goes uphill and then you have this movie."

"Pi" has resonated around the world, but particularly in Asia. Lee appreciates how different audiences from different backgrounds have deciphered the film and what it means.

"What warmed my heart the most is how they talk about the ending," Lee says. "They go and see the movie again and they see the first story as a different story.  Most people internalize the first story. This is very common in Asia. So, that make me particularly happy. That was what I was aiming for.

Besides attending numerous award season events over the next six weeks, Lee plans on taking a significant break. As for his next project, Lee sounds intrigued by the idea of working in 3D once again.

"There are so many possibilities. Y'know, for a long time I thought the next one has to be small because I was so tired and exhausted," Lee says. " Now I think on 3D, 'Yeah, if I can afford it.'  I don't know what the next movie will be, but yeah 3D, I'll try it again. [I'm interested] in anything in the movies that I feel so new to it and 3D is one of those things.  I'd like to try it again."

"Life of Pi" is still playing in theaters nationwide.