Oscars 2020: Joaquin Phoenix admits he's 'hard to work with' in epic Best Actor Oscar speech

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Joaquin Phoenix described himself as having been 'selfish and cruel' over his career, as he collected the award for Best Actor for his role in Joker at the Oscars last night.

He also thanked people in the room for giving him a second chance, spoke about veganism, his late brother River Phoenix and admitted that he's difficult to work with.

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“Now, I have been — I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with,” he told the audience at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

“And I’m grateful [to] so many of you in this room [who] have given me a second chance and I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity.”

Joaquin Phoenix (Credit: Arturo Holmes via Getty Images)

It was Phoenix's first Oscar, after four nominations over his career, but had been widely tipped for the gong last night, beating Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) to the prize.

Like his recent speech at the BAFTAs, he also tackled diversity and inequality, and was certainly the first to broach bovine insemination in an Oscars speech.

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“I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice — against the belief that one nation, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control, and use and exploit another with impunity,” he went on.

Speaking about our 'egocentric worldview', he excoriated 'the belief that we’re the centre of the universe'.

Phoenix and Olivia Colman (Credit: Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

“We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby. Even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal,” he went on.

He finished by paying tribute to his brother, the late River Phoenix, who died in 1993.

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“Ehen he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, 'Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.' Thank you,” he said.

Phoenix has dominated awards season this year for his role as failed comedian Arthur Fleck in Todd Phillips’ origin story of Batman's nemesis, the Joker.

Joining his Oscar is a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award and a Hollywood Critics Association award.