Joaquin Phoenix gives shout-out to Heath Ledger in SAG Awards speech

Los Angeles, Jan 20 (PTI) Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix, who is tipped to win this year's best actor Oscar for his role in 'Joker', has credited 'The Dark Knight' star Heath Ledger for giving him the confidence to play the DC supervillain.

'The Dark Knight' (2008) focuses on the fight between the superhero Batman and the supervillain Joker, also known as the Clown Prince of Crime. Eleven years later, 'Joker' delves into what made the character so evil.

The late Ledger played Joker in 'The Dark Knight', and Phoenix takes on the character in last year's film.

'Really, I'm standing here on the shoulders of my favourite actor, Heath Ledger,' Phoenix, who is nominated for best actor Oscar, said. Ledger won numerous awards, including a posthumous Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a SAG award for his portrayal of the comic book antagonist in Christopher Nolan's 2008 film. Ledger, 28, died the same year from an accidental overdose. Phoenix also gave a shout-out to Leonardo DiCaprio, who was nominated for 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood', reported Vanity Fair.

The actor recalled how he and DiCaprio were pitted against each other as child actors during early audition days.

'There would always be two other guys that I was up against and we'd always lose to this one kid... every casting director would always whisper, 'It's Leonardo',' he said as the audience roared with laughter.

'You've been an inspiration for over 25 years to me and so many people,' he added as DiCaprio acknowledged the nod.

To Christian Bale, who was nominated for 'Ford v Ferrari', Phoenix begged to deliver at least one bad performance.

'It's infuriating. I wish you would. Just suck once,' he said.

Phoenix covered full ground as he paid homage to 'Marriage Story' star Adam Driver and 'Rocketman' fame Taron Egerton.

'Adam, I've been watching you the last few years and you've been turning in these beautiful, nuanced, incredible, profound performances. I'm just so moved by you... you should be here. Taron, I'm so happy for you... you're so beautiful in this movie and I'm so happy for you, and I can't wait to see what else you do,' he added. PTI MIN BK