PETA's 2019 Person of the Year is... The Joker

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Joaquin Phoenix, the star of the Warner Bros. breakout hit Joker, now has the title of PETA's 2019 "Person of the Year."

Phoenix's dedication to animal rights is just one of the many reasons the actor won the prestigious honor, along with his veganism at the age of 3 after seeing a fish caught and killed. Past winners of PETA's "Person of the Year" include Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey and Anjelica Huston.

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The last year has seen the Joker star appear on "We Are All Animals" billboards in Times Square and on Sunset Billboard, work with California lawmakers to ban circuses that use wild animals, and lead a memorial service at a National Animal Rights Day March while holding a dead chicken.

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"I don't want to cause pain to another living, empathetic creature," Phoenix explained during the press tour for Joker. "I don't want to take [their] babies away from [them]. I don't want to force [them] to be indoors and fattened up just to be slaughtered. It is absurd and barbaric."

"Joaquin Phoenix never misses an opportunity to turn the spotlight away from himself and onto animals' plight and to set a great example of walking the vegan walk," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. "PETA is proud to kick off awards season by honoring his dedication to showing everyone that when it comes to feeling fear, pain, and love, a human being is no different from a hen or a hamster."

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Phoenix's animal rights work also includes serving as executive producer The Animal People documentary, narrating the Earthlings documentary and producing the pro-vegan documentary, What the Health.

Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham. The film is now in theaters.

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