Joaquin Phoenix offered his thoughts on the state of the world in 2020 as he collected the Leading Actor prize for his role as Arthur Fleck in Joker at Sunday’s Oscars.
The star became the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the notorious DC Comics villain, after the late Heath Ledger won the prize for his performance in The Dark Knight in 2008.
Taking the stage, Phoenix said he didn’t believe he deserves the award over his fellow nominees, before launching into a lengthy speech about the state of humanity.
“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 were made to feel, that we champion different causes,” he began. “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.”
The actor 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. A belief that we are the centre of the universe.”
Explaining how human beings’ egocentric tendencies allow them to justify things like stripping animals like cows for their babies, milk, meat, and other materials, he added: “I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up… (but) when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles we can create develop and implement systems of change that are useful to all Homosapien and the environment.”
However, the 45-year-old actor got more emotional as he confessed he felt like he’d been given a “second chance”, noting: “I think that’s when we’re at our best. When we support each other. When we help each other to grow, when we guide each other toward redemption, that is the best of humanity.”
Concluding his speech, Phoenix fought tears as he read out a quote from his late brother, River.
“When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric, he said: ‘Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.’ Thank you.”