SAG Awards 2020: Joaquin Phoenix, award acceptance speech, “Joker”

SAG Awards 2020: Joaquin Phoenix | "Joker" | Outstanding Performance Award acceptance speech.

by Jessie Mendoza

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[Image credit: TNT]

Joaquin Phoenix receives the Actor for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in “Joker”.

Lauded by critics for its style, simplicity and genuine warmth, the Screen Actors Guild Awards ® presented by SAG-AFTRA, which made its debut in 1995, has become one of the industry’s most prized honors. The only televised awards shows to exclusively honor performers, it presents thirteen awards for acting in film and television in a fast moving two hour show which airs live on TNT and TBS. The awards focus on both individual performances as well as on the work of the entire ensemble of a drama series and comedy series, and the cast of a motion picture. These honors are fundamental to the spirit of the Screen Actors Guild Awards because they recognize what all actors know – that acting is a collaborative art.

Joaquin Phoenix is an American actor and producer. He has received several accolades, including a Grammy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and nominations for four Academy Awards.

Phoenix started acting in television with his brother River and sister Summer. His first major film role was in SpaceCamp (1986). During this period, he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, his self-given name. He later went back to his birth name and received positive reviews for his supporting work in the comedy-drama To Die For (1995) and the period film Quills (2000). He received wider attention for his portrayal of Commodus in Gladiator (2000), which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He subsequently earned Best Actor nominations for portraying musician Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005), an alcoholic war veteran in The Master (2012), which won him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor, and the title character in Joker (2019). Phoenix’s other films include the horror films Signs (2002) and The Village (2004), the historical drama Hotel Rwanda (2004), the romantic drama Her (2013), the crime satire Inherent Vice (2014), and the psychological thriller You Were Never Really Here (2017), for which he won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor.

Phoenix has also ventured into directing music videos, as well as producing films and television shows. For recording the soundtrack to Walk the Line, he won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media. Phoenix is a social activist, lending his support to several charities and humanitarian organizations. He is on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization which provides daily meals to students of township schools in Soweto of South Africa. Phoenix is also known for his animal rights advocacy. He has been a vegan since the age of three and campaigns for PETA and In Defense of Animals.

Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom on October 28, 1974, in the Río Piedras district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to American parents from the U.S. mainland. He is the third of five children, following River (1970–1993) and Rain (born 1972), and preceding Liberty (born 1976) and Summer (born 1978), all of whom are actors. He also has a half-sister named Jodean (born 1964) from a previous relationship of his father. He was born with a microform cleft lip, which has been mistaken for a scar on his upper lip.

Phoenix’s father, John Lee Bottom, is originally from California, and is of mostly English, some German, and remote French ancestry. His mother, Arlyn (née Dunetz), was born in New York City to Ashkenazi Jewish parents, whose families were from Russia and Hungary. Arlyn moved to California, meeting Phoenix’s father while hitchhiking. They married in 1969, years later joined a religious cult, the Children of God, and began traveling throughout South America. His parents eventually became disenchanted with the Children of God; they decided to leave the group and at the age of 3, he returned to the U.S. in 1977. They changed their last name to Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes, symbolizing a new beginning. Around this time, Joaquin began calling himself “Leaf”, desiring to have a nature-related name like his siblings, inspired by spending time outdoors raking leaves. “Leaf” became the name he used as a child actor, until he changed it back to Joaquin at age 15.

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