Watch: Joaquin Phoenix Thanks Late Brother River in Toronto Film Festival Tribute Award Speech

Toronto International Film Festival

Joaquin Phoenix’s award path is potentially just getting started thanks to the huge acclaim he’s receiving for his role as the titular villain in Todd Phillips’ Joker.

Mind you, Phoenix didn’t win for his Joker performance here, instead being honoured with the Tribute Actor Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Joker had its second public screening following Venice.

One great performer to another. Willem Dafoe hit the stage and presented the award to an amusingly modest Phoenix, who thanked Dafoe by calling him his “all-time favourite actor.”

Phoenix gave an amusing and surprisingly emotional speech, touching on the people that had helped him craft his career. Among them, his late brother River Phoenix, who he says came home one day and made him watch Raging Bull on VHS. River woke him up the next morning and made him see it again, telling him, “You’re going to start acting again. This is what you’re going to do.”

River Phoenix, who starred in films such as Stand by Me and My Own Private Idaho, passed away from combined drug intoxication in 1993. He was only 23.

The upcoming awards circuit will likely be quite busy for Joaquin. Joker arrives in Australia on October 3 and opens in the US on October 4.




Warner Bros.

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