Joaquin Phoenix Fights Tears While Quoting Late Brother River In Oscar Speech After Winning Best Actor
Joaquin Phoenix accepted his award for Best Actor to the surprise of absolutely no one, as he has dominated the category throughout awards seasons. And, during his acceptance speech, the 45-year-old talked about everything from cancel culture to cow’s milk, but he ended it with a quote from his late brother, River Phoenix, that nearly left him in tears.
Phoenix won the Oscar for his performance in Joker , and he told the crowd that he has been thinking a lot lately about “some of the distressing issues we are facing collectively.” He explained that at times we’re made to feel like we champion different causes, but he sees commonality.
Whether the topic is gender inequality, racism, queer right, indigenous rights, or animal rights, Phoenix says that ultimately we are all talking about the fight against injustice.
“I’ve been a scoundrel in my life,” he said. “I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with. I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. 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.”
Phoenix noted the importance of helping each other grow and guiding each other toward redemption because “that is the best of humanity.”
He also mentioned how we go into the natural world and plunder it for resources. Phoenix gave the example of humanity’s entitlement to artificially inseminate a cow, and then when she gives birth we steal her baby, despite the fact that “her cries of anguish are unmistakable.”
“And then we take the milk intended for her calf and put it in our coffee and our cereal," Phoenix said.
The Oscar winner explained his belief that people fear the idea of personal change because they think they have to sacrifice something or give something up. However, Phoenix believes that human beings are at their best are inventive, creative, and ingenious. And, he urged the audience to use love and compassion as their guiding principle.
Joaquin Phoenix ended his acceptance speech by honoring his brother River, who died in 1993 at the age of 23 from an accidental drug overdose. River was nominated for an Oscar in 1986 for his performance in The Mosquito Coast.
“When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric, he said: ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow,’” said Phoenix as he fought the tears.