The “Joker” lead actor, Joaquin Phoenix, wasn’t enthusiastic about his award because he was scared. He won the coveted Academy Award for his depiction of Arthur Fleck in Todd Phillips’ dark thriller “Joker” in February 2020.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the highly reserved actor admitted that getting the award was a lot of mental exhaustion. He was so jittery about going upstage and delivering an acceptance speech.
“I’ll be honest with you here,” he said. “I did not want to get up anywhere and do anything. I was not excited about the opportunity. It’s just not who I am. I was full of fear.”
However, while he thought of giving a short and sweet speech to disappear off the stage as quickly as possible, he realized he could use the platform to delineate animal rights issues.
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“I was in that situation, and there was a part of me that just wanted to say, ‘Thanks so much, great, goodnight.’ But I felt like I had to…” he exhaled. “If I’m up here, I can’t just thank my mum.”
The Speech He Eventually Gave
The actor eventually gave an emotional speech that explored the “distressing issues” that the world is facing. In his remarks, he mentioned that he saw them as more unifying than dividing and persuaded everyone to live with love and compassion.
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“I’m full of so much gratitude right now, and I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees, or anyone in this room,” he started, “because we share the same love, the love of film, and this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know what I’d be without it,” he said.
“But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many of us in this room is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively, and I think at times we feel, or are made to feel, that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality.”
He continued, “I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world and many of us, what we’re guilty of is an egocentric world-view, the belief that we’re the center of the universe,” Phoenix went on, as he looked awash with emotion.
“We go into the natural world, and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to inseminate a cow artificially, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby. Even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”
In Remembrance Of His Brother
To emphasize his point, Phoenix quoted a lyric which his late brother, River, wrote. His brother died from substance use at 23 years old in October 1993 outside the famous Viper Room located in Los Angeles.
“I’ve been a scoundrel all my life. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance,” he told the audience at the time. “And I think that’s when we’re at our best when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other grow, educate each other, and guide each other towards redemption. That is the best of humanity.”
“When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric,” he went on. “He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.'”
Phoenix Has Never Been Interested In The Oscars
The “Signs” actor had always been numb to the academy. In his early years, Phoenix disclosed that he never wanted anything to do with the revered ceremony.
“I’m just saying that I think it’s bulls—t,” Phoenix told Interview magazine. “I think it’s total, utter bulls—t, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t believe in it. It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life.”
He later mentioned how the awards seemed to pit actors against each other. Then expressed his reaction to ending up in the awards circuit.
“It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when Walk the Line was going through all the awards stuff and all that,” Phoenix continued. “I never want to have that experience again. I don’t know how to explain it – and it’s not like I’m in this place where I think I’m just above it – but I don’t ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.”
Who Is Phoenix?
Joaquin Rafael Phoenix is an American actor, producer, and animal rights, activist. Famous for his dark and unconventional roles in independent films, he has received various awards, including an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and a British Academy Film Award.
In 2020, he was rated 12th on the checklist of the 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century by The New York Times.
Phoenix is married to “Her” co-star Rooney Mara. They have been married for three years and share a son.