Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor Oscar at the 2020 ceremony for Joker

By Ale Russian
June 07, 2021 01:30 PM
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Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix struggled with his big Oscar moment.

The Joker star won Best Actor at the 2020 Academy Awards for his portrayal of the Batman villain. In a new interview with U.K.'s the Sunday Times, Phoenix admitted that he found the experience of making a speech at the ceremony terrifying.

"I did not want to get up anywhere and do anything. I was not excited about the opportunity. It's just not who I am. I was full of fear," Phoenix said.

"I was in that situation and there was a part of me that just wanted to say, 'Thanks so much, great, goodnight,' " Phoenix, 46, recalled. "But I felt like I had to . . .If I'm up here, I can't just thank my mom."

Arlyn Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix
Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The actor went on to give an emotional speech that touched on the "distressing issues" that the world is facing, but said that he sees them as more of a unifying factor than a dividing one, urging everyone to live with love and compassion.

To make his point, Phoenix recited a lyric written by his late brother, River, who died from a drug overdose at 23 years old in October of 1993 outside of the iconic Viper Room in Los Angeles.

"I've been a scoundrel all my life. I've been selfish. I've been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I'm grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance," he told the audience at the time. "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 grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other towards redemption. That is the best of humanity."

"When he was when he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric," he went on. "He said, 'Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.'"