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Joaquin Phoenix Thanked Heath Ledger After SAG Awards Best Actor Win
Joaquin Phoenix is an incredible actor, so it’s not a huge surprise that he’s won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his performance in Joker, and now stands nominated for an Oscar. But the late Heath Ledger helped pave the way for the awards season love that Phoenix is getting these days—he won the same trio of trophies for playing the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight, cementing the part as the premier awards-bait role across the comic book movie genre. So it makes sense that when accepting his SAG Award Sunday Night, Phoenix shouted out the actor who helped make his win possible.
“I’m standing here on the shoulders of my favorite actor, Heath Ledger,” Phoenix said during his acceptance speech.
But Ledger wasn’t the only star Phoenix mentioned: He also praised every other actor nominated in his category. He commended Marriage Story star Adam Driver’s “devastating” performance, and said that he “can’t wait to see what else” Rocketman star Taron Egerton will do.
Christian Bale, who was nominated for Ford vs. Ferrari, said Phoenix, “never turns in a bad performance.”
“It’s infuriating,” he joked. “I wish you would one time just suck once.”
And the winner shared an anecdote about Leonardo DiCaprio, who was nominated for his starring role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
“When I started acting again, and going to auditions, I’d always get to like the final callback, and I think many people know what that’s like,” he said. “And there would always be, like, two other guys that I was up against. And we’d always lose to this one kid. No actor would ever say his name because it was, like, too much, but every casting director would whisper, ‘It’s Leonardo.’ Leonardo, you’ve been an inspiration for over 25 years to me and so many people.”
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.