Standing in the spotlight doesn’t interest Joaquin Phoenix. As the buzz, critical acclaim, and Oscar talk surrounding his performance in Joker swirl, he’s been steadfastly ensuring that the spotlight is on what he cares about most deeply: animal liberation. His lifelong dedication to ending speciesism has brought him another award: He’s PETA’s 2019 Person of the Year.
Just before the Joker premier, Joaquin’s compelling anti-speciesism ad went up in Times Square and on Sunset Boulevard, proclaiming, “We Are All Animals.”
Since he first appeared in a charming pro-vegan ad for PETA US just before Thanksgiving, no request has ever been too much for Joaquin. He’s spoken out against wool in his “Cruelty Doesn’t Suit Me” ad. He’s “drowned” to show how fish typically suffer in their last moments of life. When he saw undercover footage of China’s dog-leather industry, he called it “the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Phoenix narrated the groundbreaking animal rights documentary Earthlings in 2005, produced the pro-vegan documentary What the Health in 2017 and was among the narrators of the animal agriculture exposé Dominion in 2018.
That kind of dedication and determination has persisted throughout his entire life. His advocacy started at age 3, when he went vegan after watching a fish caught and gutted on a ship’s deck, and it’s continued for the past four-plus decades of living an animal-friendly life, seizing every chance to help others experience that same awakening.
Days after the Joker premiere, photographers followed Joaquin to a Los Angeles slaughterhouse, where he joined PETA’s friends in the Save Movement to give water to thirsty pigs and comfort them in their final moments—no doubt the only act of kindness they had ever known.
For using his fame to put the spotlight on animals in need; for helping create films, billboards, and videos that wake people up; for loudly protesting against cruelty and quietly comforting animals during their last moments on Earth; for exemplifying compassion and respect for all individuals; and for serving as a living example of the end of speciesism, PETA is honoured to name Joaquin Phoenix our 2019 Person of the Year.