The Sweet Reason Joaquin Phoenix Dashed Out Of the SAG Awards

Earlier this week, Joaquin Phoenix received the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for outstanding performance by a male actor for his role in Joker. He delivered a touching acceptance speech acknowledging his friend, Heath Ledger, who played a deranged version of the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight.

Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix | JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images

After the awards ceremony, Phoenix quickly attended an after-party and then left to run an important errand.

Here’s what we know about what the 45-year-old actor needed to attend to in such a hurry.

Phoenix left SAGs early to comfort pigs

Phoenix, as it turns out, ran out of the afterparty he was attending after the awards ceremony to get to a slaughterhouse about fifteen minutes from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

The reason for his urgent need to be among pigs about to be butchered? He wanted to be there – still in his tuxedo – to attend a slaughterhouse vigil to console and offer water to the animals.

Unusual for the generally media-shy Phoenix, he spoke at the event with Renee Marinkovich for vegan lifestyle/animal rights digital news network Jane Unchained.

“Most people don’t really know of the torture and murder in the meat and dairy industry. I’ve seen it for what it is, so I have to be here,” Phoenix said.

“We have moral obligations to talk about it and expose it for what it really is. We are so indoctrinated with these happy images of animals on farms, on the covers of meat containers, at restaurants, and it’s a lie. I think people need to know the truth and we have an obligation to do that.”

Phoenix’s influence on a plant-based Golden Globes ceremony

This isn’t the first time Phoenix has shown up at a slaughterhouse vigil. Apparently, the actor attends vigils regularly. He is thoroughly committed to supporting animal rights. In fact, it’s because of his influence that the Golden Globes ceremony earlier this month served a full vegan menu.

Afterward, on the Instagram account of his sister, Rain, the Walk the Line star praised the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the awards show’s chefs for the animal-free feast.

“By acknowledging animal agriculture’s role in the degradation of our planet and boldly taking measures to do its part to reduce harm, the [Hollywood Foreign Press Association] has shown great leadership,” Phoenix wrote.

“Thank you, Mr. Soria, the brilliant chefs, and everyone working so hard to confront the environmental perils we face by supporting a plant-based 77th Golden Globes celebration.”

Why Phoenix and his family embrace a vegan lifestyle

Joaquin isn’t the only member of the Phoenix family to choose a vegan lifestyle. The entire Phoenix clan embraces it.

The actor explained to Vanity Fair in October 2019 that his family became vegan in 1977 onboard a cargo ship headed to Miami from Venezuela. They had been members of the Children of God religious cult and were heading back to the United States after making the decision to cut ties with them.

Phoenix and his family saw fishermen yanking fish off of their hooks and then flinging them forcefully onto nails on the ship’s wall. The family was horrified at the torture of the fish.

“It was so violent, it was just so intense,” he remembered. “I have a vivid memory of my mom’s face, which—I have seen that same face maybe one other time, where she was completely speechless because we yelled at her. ‘How come you didn’t tell us that’s what fish was?’ I remember tears streaming down her face.… She didn’t know what to say.”

Two months later, the family completely converted to veganism. It’s certainly a movement that is gaining momentum around the world.

In the meantime, we’ll have to see if Phoenix influences the Academy Awards to also serve a plant-based menu at this year’s ceremony.