Todd Phillips’ Joker movie has solidly been at the forefront of the awards conversation this year, and much of that is thanks to Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. However, the actor doesn’t credit himself for all the lauds the movie is getting. In fact, while accepting the award for Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor at this weekends SAG Awards, Phoenix revealed he feels this role's nods and wins are thanks to “Standing on the shoulders” of the late Heath Ledger.
At the end of his SAG Awards acceptance speech, Joaquin Phoenix mentioned specifically:
Really, I’m standing here on the shoulders of my favorite actor Heath Ledger, so thank you and goodnight.
There have been quite a few actors who have taken on the iconic Batman villain Joker over the years. The list includes voice work from Mark Hamill, notable work from stalwart Jack Nicholson, a quick turn by a wild-looking Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, and more on both TV and film. Still, one of the definitive performances has always been Heath Ledger’s.
This is particularly true given rumors the role allegedly exacerbated some of the sleeping problems he was having in the months leading to his death in 2008. While he was working on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus at the time of his accidental overdose, there will always be something ultra unsettling about seeing his version of Joker on the big screen. It also helps that Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are very memorable and well-regarded by the general population, so the performance has lived on in our collective memories.
Still, to hear Joaquin Phoenix pay homage to his “favorite” actor really makes this speech hit home. In real life, Heath Ledger and Phoenix knew one another, as well, adding another layer of “aww” to his final comment at the SAG Awards.
Fans online were notably touched by the quick moment during the acceptance speech, and one fan even brought up that Heath Ledger had won a SAG for The Dark Knight in 2009, which Gary Oldman accepted following his passing. That’s another nice nod to the past.
Elsewhere in his speech, Joaquin Phoenix revealed that when he was starting his career, he and other young actors would go up for the same auditions and without fail would lose to Leonardo DiCaprio, whom he has been facing in the Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor category this year. It’s absolutely worth watching, so if you haven’t given it a look yet, check it out below.