On Feb. 9, Joaquin Phoenix won the Academy Award for Best Actor. On Feb. 10, he rescued a mother cow and her calf.
One day after his win in which he delivered a headline-making speech about animal agriculture and the treatment of cows and their offspring, Phoenix joined Farm Sanctuary — an animal advocacy organization and sanctuary in California — to liberate a pair of cows.
Naming the mother cow Liberty and her calf Indigo, Phoenix was accompanied by his fiancée and fellow activist Rooney Mara, both his mother and Mara’s mother, Earthlings Director Shaun Monson, LA Animal Save Founder Amy Jean Davis, and Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur. The group, along with the Manning Beef slaughterhouse president and CEO identified as Anthony, worked together to transport Liberty and her one-month-old calf to their new home.
Video of the day captured Anthony and Phoenix in open dialogue, engaging over animal agriculture practices.
“Harvested,” Antony says, describing the slaughter process. “Murdered,” Phoenix says in retort, as the pair go back-and-forth several times.
“I understand, language is powerful,” Phoenix says. “You say tomatoe, I say tomatoh.”
The slaughterhouse in question has a policy not to kill mothers and their babies, which the video states is an “exception to the rule”.
Describing their encounter in a statement, Phoneix says, “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. Without his act of kindness, Liberty and her baby calf, Indigo, would have met a terrible demise.”
“It’s gonna take a transformation at the sanctuary to accomplish what you want,” the slaughterhouse president cautioned. “It’s all good, man,” he says, as the two embrace before Phoenix promises to send photos of the cow and calf in a field at their new home where they were to join other rescued cows.
“Oh, my love. Oh my goodness,” Phoenix exclaims to Indigo while opening up the trailer door upon arrival at Farm Sanctuary. The actor then gently lifts the calf, carrying her into the holding-area pen before Liberty was released.
“My hope is, as we watch baby Indigo grow up with her mom Liberty at Farm Sanctuary, that we’ll always remember that friendships can emerge in the most unexpected places; and no matter our differences, kindness and compassion should rule everything around us,” Phoenix said.
“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,” his statement continued. “Shaun Monson, Amy Jean Davis, and the entire LA Animal Save community, have taken their pain of bearing witness and turned it into effective, diplomatic advocacy for the voiceless. As a result, Liberty and Indigo will never experience cruelty or the touch of a rough hand.”
The video of the day’s rescue, captured by documentary filmmaker Shaun Monson, ends with a still photo of Liberty and Indigo captioned with the song lyric Phoenix shared during his Oscars acceptance speech. Written by his late brother River Phoenix, the photo includes the lyric “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow”.
This isn’t the first time Phoenix has demonstrated his commitment to animal rights and veganism. Following his SAG Awards win, he joined a vigil for pigs outside an L.A. slaughterhouse and visited a vegan campaign in Toronto following the TIFF screening of “Joker”. The actor was also named PETA’s Person Of The Year for 2019.