Joaquin Phoenix quoted his late brother, River, during his Best Actor award acceptance speech at the 2020 Oscars.
Phoenix won Best Actor on Sunday night at the Academy Awards for his performance in Joker as the troubled comedian-turned-Clown of Crime Arthur Fleck in the controversial villain origin story. As anticipated, the actor’s acceptance speech did not disappoint.
“I’m filled with so much gratitude right now,” Phoenix began. “I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room because we share the same love, the love of film… I don’t know where I would be without it.”
The actor went on to say that his “greatest gift” is the opportunity to use his voice for those who don’t have one.
“I think the greatest gift that it has given me, and many of us in this room, is the opportunities to use our voice for the voiceless,” Phoenix explained. “I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively and I think at times we are made to feel that we champion different causes.”
“But for me, I see commonality,” he continued. “I think whether we are talking about gender inequality or racism, or queer rights, or indigenous rights or animal rights, we are talking about the fight against injustice. We are talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control, use and exploit one another with impunity. I think that we have become every 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.”
He also added, “We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow 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. I think we fear the idea of personal change, because we think we have to sacrifice something, to give something up. But human beings at our best are so inventive and creative and ingenious, I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.”
The actor also thanked Hollywood for giving him numerous chances to succeed as an actor.
“I’ve been a scoundrel in my life,” he elaborated. “I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with. Many of you in this room have given me a second chance.”
Phoenix concluded his speech with a touching quote from his late brother.
“When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow,'” he shared.
As the actor exited the stage, he received a standing ovation from the crowd.
At this year’s award show ceremonies, Phoenix has taken home a Golden Globe, SAG Award, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Award. Each of his acceptance speeches has included a message about climate change, systemic racism, and sustainability.