“I need to thank my mom,” he said in a rare public acknowledgment to actress and social activist Arlyn Phoenix. “Mom, you’ve always been my greatest inspiration. Even when self-pity led me astray, you didn’t give up on me… I appreciate your support.”
Phoenix also opened his speech by acknowledging the awards ceremony’s choice to serve a plant-based menu. “I’d like to thank the awards for going plant-based and trying to offset our carbon footprint,” he said. “I do appreciate that.”
The recognition echoes what he said at the 2020 Golden Globes, where he won Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama. While accepting the award, he thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for going vegan with the evening’s meal in his ongoing effort to raise awareness of the environmental effects caused by harvesting animal byproducts.
He also finished that speech by saying that “sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives,” which he did a few days later when he stood by and got arrested with Jane Fonda during her Washington, D.C., Friday "Fire Drills" for climate change.
He has also made a pledge to wear the same suit he donned at the Globes throughout the rest of awards season.
On Sunday night, Phoenix also thanked director Todd Phillips for inviting Joker audiences “to see what it feels like to be one of the forgotten,” as he acknowledged some of the film’s central messages about mental health and violence.