A day after winning Best Actor at the Oscars and delivering an impassioned, if slightly bizarre speech about animal rights from the podium, Joaquin Phoenix took a trip to a slaughterhouse just outside of LA. Its owner, Anthony Di Maria, refuses to kill cows who give birth on his property—same goes for their calves—and Phoenix decided to personally shepherd the animals to a sanctuary nearby. There was no way in hell a PR opportunity that golden was going to go undocumented, and thus, we have this slickly produced video of the whole shebang.
"I don’t really need any science to see with my own eyes and hear how an animal responds to pain, right? That’s undeniable," Phoenix says to Di Maria, kicking off a somewhat uncomfortable (but generally respectful, and altogether pure) conversation with him about animal rights. For a guy who owns a slaughterhouse, Di Maria is a real softie: From the day it's born, he refuses to separate a calf from its mother. He still refers to killing cows as "harvesting" them, which Phoenix is pretty stubbornly and vocally Not Happy About, but after that conversation goes absolutely nowhere, everyone moves on to the part where Phoenix gets to carry a baby cow into one of those animal trailers, whisking it and its mother to safety. Throw in some shots of the two of them frolicking around in a state of carefree bliss at LA's Farm Sanctuary; show Phoenix intoning "my love, my love, my love" to that calf repeatedly like some kind of vegan Smeagol; layer on a deeply intense string accompaniment; and whammo! You've got yourself a heartwarming Joaquin Phoenix Saves an Animal Video.
"I never thought I'd find friendship in a slaughterhouse, but meeting Anthony and opening my heart to his, I realize we might have more in common than we do differences," Phoenix said in a statement. "Without his act of kindness, Liberty and her baby calf, Indigo"—he named them, yes—
"would have met a terrible demise. Although we will continue to fight for the liberation of all animals who suffer in these oppressive systems, we must take pause to acknowledge and celebrate the victories, and the people who helped achieve them."
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