Joaquin Phoenix pays tribute to Heath Ledger in SAG Awards speech

'Joker' star calls Ledger his "favourite actor"

Joaquin Phoenix paid tribute to previous Joker actor Heath Ledger as he accepted a Screen Actors Guild Awards last night (January 20).

The star took home the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role gong for Joker, spending much of the speech praising his fellow nominees.

However, at the end Phoenix declared: “I am standing here on the shoulders of my favourite actor, Heath Ledger.”


Ledger – who passed away in 2008 – played the Joker in The Dark Knight, and took home a posthumous Oscar for his performance.

Among the other big 2020 SAG Awards winners was Parasite, which won the night’s top prize, while the night’s other top acting awards went to Renée Zellwegger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern.

Last year it was revealed that Ledger was keen to play the Joker again in a sequel prior to his death from the accidental intoxication of prescription drugs.

Jonathan nolan heath ledger joker
Heath Ledger as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. CREDIT: Warner Bros

“I know he had plans for another Batman,” sister Kate said. “He loved working with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale and Gary Oldman. He just had the best time ever doing that film.”


Nolan also recently revealed that Ledger was in line to play Batman before the role went to Christian Bale, though the actor turned it down immediately.

“He was quite gracious about it, but he said, ‘I would never take a part in a superhero film,'” the director recalled.

However, he was apparently so impressed by Batman Begins that he actively sought the role of the Joker for the sequel.

“Heath spent months and months [preparing], we cast him even before the script was written so he had a very long time to obsess about it, think about what he was going to do, to really figure it out,” Nolan added.