Hollywood, Calif. — Joaquin Phoenix is drowning. In a rare appearance outside his award-winning films, the Oscar nominee is featured in a brand-new PETA video—as teased in the “For Your Consideration” ad in the Calendar section of today’s Los Angeles Times (seen here)—that shows him underwater, panicking and struggling to breathe. As the text explains, “In water, humans drown just as fish suffocate on land. It’s slow and painful and frightening. … Put yourself in their place. Try to relate. Go vegan.” The video, which was shot by top photographer Michael Muller, can be seen here.
Capitalizing on the buzz surrounding Phoenix’s critically acclaimed performance in The Master, PETA moved to place the ad during the Academy Awards, but ABC deemed the video to be too political and controversial to run during the broadcast. PETA has now placed the video as a commercial to air during the Jimmy Kimmel Live! post-Oscars broadcast.
“I was 3 years old—to this day it is a vivid memory,” Phoenix says of the moment he connected human suffering with animal suffering. “My family and I were on a boat, catching fish. As one fish was caught, he was writhing, then he was thrown against the side of the boat. You couldn’t disguise what it was. This was what we did to animals to eat them. The animal went from a living, vibrant creature fighting for life to a violent death. I recognized it, as did my brothers and sisters.”
In addition to garnering an Academy Award nomination, Phoenix’s work in The Master has already landed him awards from associations of film critics in London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Utah, Vancouver, and Austin, Texas, as well as at the Venice Film Festival.