Joker Star Joaquin Phoenix Praises Heath Ledger in SAG Award Speech

Joaquin Phoenix’s magical awards season run continued with a win for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor for Joker at the SAG Awards on Sunday. But, the best moment for the people at home was the superstar paying homage to Heath Ledger during his acceptance speech. He said, "I'm standing here on the shoulders of my favorite actor Heath Ledger,” while taking home the hardware and The Dark Knight fans across the globe were absolutely taken aback by the sincerity of the moment. All subsequent portrayals of the Clown Prince of Crime were going to be done in the shadow of the actor after his tragic death back in 2008. His haunting performance snared him an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Phoenix is hoping that he can also bring home an Oscar for his turn as Arthur Fleck in Joker.

This has been an absolute whirlwind for the star in 2020 as he’s collected a Golden Globe for his performance and managed to get arrested during a climate change protest with Jane Fonda in the last month. All of these moments in the spotlight have served as a chance for the star to use his platform to support causes that he believes strongly in. He’s also not been shy about addressing some of the criticism of the film’s violence when it comes up.

“I’ve described it as, like, a Rorschach Test,” Phoenix told 60 Minutes last week. “It says something about the person viewing it and what they think that it's about. That's really rare for a film to kind of have that effect on people. So in some ways, I welcomed it.”

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During an appearance before the press during the Venice Film Festival last year, the star called the role “one of the greatest experiences” of his career.

“I guess I was interested, actually, in the light of Arthur, for lack of a better word,” Phoenix explained. “It wasn’t just the torment, it was kind of like the joy, it was his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected and to feel warmth and love. That’s the part of the character that I was interested in and I think was worth kind of exploring. I don’t think of a character as tormented. I don’t ever kind of define characters in that way. It’s only when I come to do press that I get asked these questions, but I never think of it that way.”

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