Oscars 2020: Joker Star Joaquin Phoenix Reveals Why Awards Make Him Uncomfortable

Joker star Joaquin Phoenix has opened up about feeling uncomfortable on the awards circuit. The actor, who has in the past confessed to having feelings of "incredible anxiety" on set, was visibly nervous during his acceptance speeches when awarded the Best Actor prizes at the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the BAFTA Awards, often using the platform to praise his fellow nominees and Joker predecessor Heath Ledger or praise the vegan menu at the CCAs. In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Phoenix explained why he appears uncomfortable during the high-profile awards ceremonies:

"I didn't have any experience with the idea of trophies, or the idea of this represents your success," Phoenix said. "It was never a part of my life."

In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, Phoenix's older sister, actress Rain Phoenix, described what it was like growing up with four siblings — Joaquin, sisters Liberty and Summer, and older brother River Phoenix — as part of a supportive acting family:

"My parents really were very dedicated to us, and in some ways they gave up many of the things they had had in their 20s to help us find what it was we dreamed of. It was an incredibly selfless act," she said. "There was never any competitiveness between us. We realized there was a shared aspect of success – that at different times each individual was poised to shine, and supporting that was the most important thing. That is really how we felt; it isn't just a statement, it was how we behaved."

For Joker, where Phoenix plays a downtrodden Gotham City citizen yearning to be a successful stand-up comic, the actor once expressed nervousness over having to bring to screen Arthur Fleck's pain-filled laughs — an iconic aspect of this take on the clown-faced criminal.

"He was nervous about the laugh because that is a hard thing to do," writer-director Todd Phillips previously told Deadline. "You know, you write it on the page and think 'Ok, whatever or what actor will figure it out,' but that's another big thing that was a stumbling block. Not a stumbling block, but he was thinking 'How am I going to do that?'"

Phoenix then developed Arthur's laugh and pitched it to Phillips, who recalled, "It was amazing because he was sweating about it, like so nervous about it, but he did it so well." Phoenix ultimately scored his third Best Actor nomination for Joker.


The 92nd Academy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 9 on ABC. Joker is now available to own on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.