This awards season is going to be fun with “Joker” star Joaquin Phoenix.
Phoenix, who is already generating feverish awards talk with his role as the arch-villain in Todd Phillips’ dark drama, proved he can give a speech with the best of them at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Tribute Gala.
First he gently mocked the idea of awards.
“I don’t know who’s really giving me this award, who’s responsible for this or why,” he told the crowd, according to Variety. “And frankly, I don’t care. My publicist said, ‘Somebody wants to give you an award’ and I said, ‘I’m in. Let’s do it.’ “
Just when it seemed like the oddball Phoenix of the past was returning (remember that David Letterman interview), he went deep. Really deep.
He talked about being “overwhelmed with emotion” watching the acting clips shown before stepping to the podium.
He thanked his “Stand By Me” star brother River Phoenix, who died in 1993, for encouraging him to get into acting, sharing a touching anecdote featuring River coming home from a job when he was 15 or 16.
“He had a VHS copy of a movie called ‘Raging Bull’ and he sat me down and made me watch it,” Phoenix said. “And the next day he woke me up, and he made me watch it again. And he said, ‘You’re going to start acting again; this is what you’re going to do.’ He didn’t ask me, he told me. And I am indebted to him for that, because acting has given me such an incredible life.”
Then he pulled out of the emotion and went for a laugh, calling out a kooky nickname for girlfriend Rooney Mara, who was on hand for “The Joker” premiere.
“One last thing,” he said, wrapping up the speech. “Somewhere here, I don’t know where, is a filthy dragon, and I want to rip its wings off and fasten a blanket and sleep with it forever. … I love you. Thank you.”
No Joaquin. Thank you!
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rooney Mara: Joaquin Phoenix reveals girlfriend’s ‘filthy’ nickname