Joaquin Phoenix Pays Tribute to Former Joker Heath Ledger in SAG Awards Acceptance Speech

Joaquin Phoenix's march to the Oscars continues.


Image via Getty/ROBYN BECK/AFP


Joaquin Phoenix has been giving a lot of acceptance speeches lately, as he marches towards what will likely be his first Best Actor Oscar in February. But Sunday marked the first time he paid tribute to Heath Ledger. 

Phoenix is piling up the hardware for his performance as Joker in Todd Phillips’ eponymous film, a role Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for in 2008’s The Dark Knight

While on stage to accept his SAG award on Sunday, Phoenix gripped his prize and said, “I’m standing here on the shoulders of my favorite actor, Heath Ledger.”

It was a rousing moment in a speech full of praise aimed at his colleagues, specifically Leonardo DiCaprio, who was nominated for his his lead role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. “There would always be two other guys that I was up against and we’d always lose to this one kid,” Phoenix said of his early days in Hollywood alongside DiCaprio. “Every casting director would always whisper, ‘It’s Leonardo.'”

That’s when Phoenix really poured it on. “You’ve been an inspiration for over 25 years to me and so many people,” he added. 

Phoenix then turned his attention to Christian Bale, who was nominated for his performance in Ford v Ferrari. “It’s infuriating. I wish you would just suck once,” he said. 

Then it was Marriage Story star Adam Driver’s turn. “Adam [Driver], I’ve been watching you the last few years and you’ve been turning in these beautiful, nuanced, incredible, profound performances. I’m just so moved by you…you should be here.”

Finally, Phoenix heaped praise on Taron Edgerton, who failed to get an Oscar nod for his acclaimed performance as Elton John in Rocketman. “Taron [Egerton], I’m so happy for you…you’re so beautiful in this movie [Rocketman] and I’m so happy for you, and I can’t wait to see what else you do.”

While it was quite the speech for Phoenix, here’s hoping he saved some juice for the Oscars, because let’s face it, the award is his to lose.

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