Joaquin Phoenix admitted he was grateful for second chances as he picked up the Academy Award for Actor in a Leading Role on Sunday (09.02.20).
The 45-year-old actor – who won for his performance in ‘Joker’ – gave a passionate speech as he appealed for the “best of humanity” by supporting one another, not “cancel each other out” over previous mistakes.
He said: “Now, I have been I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with and ungrateful, but 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, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity.”
Joaquin – who beat off competition from Antonio Banderas (‘Pain and Glory’), Leonardo DiCaprio (‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’), Adam Driver (‘Marriage Story’), and Jonathan Pryce (‘The Two Popes’) to take the award – vowed in his speech to be a “voice for the voiceless” and insisted there is “commonality” between the different causes people support.
He said: “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, 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.
“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.
“I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism, or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.
“We’re 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 and use and exploit another with impunity.”
Joaquin then turned his attention to animal rights and urged people to change.
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 centre of the universe.
“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.
“And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up but human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious and 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 ended his passionate speech with a touching tribute to his late brother, River Phoenix.
He emotionally said: “When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric, run to the rescue with love and peace will follow. Thank you.”