Vegan actor Joaquin Phoenix has revealed he was “frightened” as he delivered his lengthy pro-animal rights speech after winning the Best Actor Oscar for Joker at the 2020 Academy Awards.
The Hollywood actor, 46, said he was “not thrilled” at the prospect of giving an acceptance speech after winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Arthur Fleck in the film Joker.
Notorious for his environmental activism and an outspoken advocate for veganism, Phoenix used his speaking time to make a passionate advocacy for animal rights, which shocked audiences worldwide.
Speaking with the Sunday TimesPhoenix, who is now the executive producer of Gunda, a black-and-white documentary about a sow and her piglets, said public speaking left him “frightened.”
Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix, 46, said he wasn’t thrilled by the idea of giving a speech after his Academy Award win for Best Actor in 2020, where he made a passionate advocacy for animal rights, pictured.
Phoenix won the Academy Award for his role as Arthur Fleck in Joker, pictured
“I didn’t want to get up and do anything. I wasn’t excited about the opportunity,” he said, reflecting on the moment.
“It’s just not who I am. I was full of fear,” he added, saying he felt he should use his speech to bring out the cause that was close to his heart. When I’m here, I can’t just thank my mother.’
The A-list actor also said that although he had turned to veganism at a young age, he would not force the diet on his children.
Phoenix explained that while he hoped his son River, named after his late brother who tragically died of an overdose at age 23, would be vegan, he wouldn’t force his beliefs on his son — and would teach him about the realities of the food industry.
The actor, pictured at this year’s Academy Awards on April 25, said public speaking left him “full of fear.”
“I’m not going to indoctrinate him with the idea that McDonald’s has a Happy Meal because there’s nothing f****** happy about that meal,” he said.
Phoenix, who has grown up vegetarian since the age of three, said he and his siblings decided to go vegan after witnessing the cruel treatment of fish during a freighter journey from Miami to Venezuela.
Speaking to Collinder in 2018, the actor recalled the moment: “They were catching fish and I think they threw them against the side of the boat to stun them,” he said.
“I just had a very violent reaction. It felt like a real injustice. It wasn’t just me, it was my siblings, all my siblings except the youngest, Summer, she wasn’t born.
Phoenix, who shares a son with his fiancé Rooney Mara, said he would not force his vegan beliefs on his child, but would educate him about the realities of the animal products industry. Pictured: Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix at the 2020 Oscars in Hollywood)
“I think it made me suspicious and angry, and afraid of people, humanity. I just thought it was such a gross abuse of power in a way. I think at that point we knew we wouldn’t eat meat anymore,” he added.
In the speech, which aired at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020, Phoenix said, “I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric worldview and we believe that we are the center of the universe.
“We go into the natural world and plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of fear are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that is meant for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereals,’ he added.
His statements drew criticism from British National Farmers’ Union (NFU) chairman Minette Batters, who said celebrity campaigners for veganism have done ‘enormous damage’ to UK meat producers and their well-being.
She said farmers feared loss of livelihood and family property as a result of Phoenix’s speech.
‘Celebrities should be careful’ [because] there are real consequences for others… Joaquin Phoenix he has had a very challenging life, and you really feel for him and a lot of the things he said but he has to remember that there are people at the end of this, there are small family farms and they too are getting hurt,” Batters said.