Joaquin Phoenix “had to” use 2020 Oscars speech to discuss humans’ attitude to animals

"If I'm up here, I can't just thank my mum"

Joaquin Phoenix has spoken about his viral 2020 Oscars speech, saying he felt like he “had to” use it to discuss his vegan beliefs.

The star collected the award for Best Actor for his role in Joker at last year’s ceremony and addressed humanity’s attitude to animals in the speech.

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow,” he said at the time. “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.”


Speaking to the Sunday Times, Phoenix reflected on his speech, saying: “I’ll be honest with you here – 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.

“I was in that situation and there was a part of me that just wanted to say, ‘Thanks so much, great, goodnight.’ But I felt like I had to… If I’m up here, I can’t just thank my mum.”

Phoenix, who is now 46, has been vegan since he was three years old. He recently served as the executive producer on Gunda, a new documentary focusing on pig sentience.

The film was created by award-winning Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky and examines the daily life of a pig and her three farm animal companions: two cows and a one-legged chicken.


Two days after his Oscars acceptance speech, the actor rescued a cow and her calf from a slaughterhouse in Los Angeles.

Partnering with the animal rights group Farm Sanctuary, Phoenix visited a slaughterhouse in Pico Rivera, LA with members of the organisation and helped liberate the animals, which he named Liberty and Indigo.