Vegan actor Joaquin Phoenix is reportedly in negotiations to reprise his Academy Award-winning role as Arthur Fleck in Todd Phillips’ “Joker.”
The two proposed sequels could bring Phoenix a $50 million contract, sources told The Mirror. Is the outspoken vegan and animal rights activist considering how much his biggest paycheck to date could help the animals and the planet? And just how much of an impact could that kind of money have?
Joaquin Phoenix and Animal Rights
Phoenix has been lending his voice to animal rights efforts for decades. He’s appeared in numerous campaigns for leading animal rights organization PETA. In 2005, he narrated Shaun Monson’s haunting documentary about animal exploitation, “Earthlings.” He also narrated the 2018 animal rights documentary, “Dominion.”
He used the spotlight during awards season to elevate animal rights. He condemned the dairy industry in his Oscars speech:
“I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world,” he said. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for the calf and we put it in our coffee and cereal. We fear the idea of personal change because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop, and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.”
Following his Oscars win, Phoenix and fiancée Rooney Mara went for vegan burgers from LA-based chain Monty’s.
After his SAG win, he attended a pig slaughterhouse vigil, still in his tuxedo. Phoenix and Mara also attended the Vanity Fair Oscar party with cards promoting Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s first sanctuary for rescued farm animals. The cards read “Choose Vegan. It isn’t a fad, it’s the future.”
Just a day after his Oscar win, he rescued a mother cow and her newborn calf from a Southern California slaughterhouse. He helped to relocate them to Farm Sanctuary’s Acton ranch.
The awards ceremonies also featured predominantly vegan menus, which Phoenix reportedly had a hand in.
He attended an animal rights protest while in London for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He’s also spoken at Jane Fonda’s Fridays for Future climate protests, even getting arrested alongside actor Martin Sheen.
How Many Animals?
It’s difficult to quantify just how much a donation from Phoenix’s anticipated salary could impact animals. He is a known supporter of organizations including PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, where he recently lent his support to whistleblowers in the meat industry.
But the bigger victory for animals and the planet will be in him once again in the spotlight. After his Oscars win, countless fans, including fellow celebrities, applauded his speech. Filmmaker Lena Dunham said she was giving up dairy as a result of his comments.
And that kind of impact, that ability to root into the collective heart and demand change, especially given the dramatic way the world changed in the weeks just after the Oscars, is incalculable. In that regard, Phoenix could keep every penny of the $50 million and still have a massive impact.
During the pandemic, Phoenix and Mara teamed up with vegan meat powerhouse Beyond Meat to help giveaway a million vegan burgers. He was in attendance at pig vigils in LA, recently, too, paying tribute to an activist killed outside a slaughterhouse in Canada.
There’s another reason the sequel paychecks may have an impact on animals. Phoenix and Mara are expecting their first child together. Phoenix and his siblings went vegan when he was just three years old. (He tells the story in this Brut video.) He said killing animals for food is “absurd and barbaric,” a philosophy likely to impact his choices as a parent. Like any parent, he’s surely going to do everything he can to help make the world a more compassionate place for his family. And he’ll use that spotlight to help him do it.