Joaquin Phoenix Named PETA Person of the Year (Exclusive)

Rich Fury

The 'Joker' star is being honored for promoting welfare rights for animals in trouble.

Joker star Joaquin Phoenix has been named by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as its 2019 Person of the Year.

A vegan since the age of 3, Phoenix, a usually interview-averse Hollywood actor, has been a longtime supporter of the animal rights organization. The three-time Oscar nominee recently appeared on PETA's "We Are All Animals" billboards in Times Square and on Sunset Billboard as he promoted legislation to ban traveling wild-animal circuses. 

And he cradled a dead chicken as he led a memorial service at the National Animal Rights Day March this year. Phoenix also executive produced The Animal People, a documentary about animal rights activists coming up against powerful industry interests.

His partnership with PETA includes campaigns against dog leather, exotic skins fishing and the turkey industry. "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.

Phoenix joins earlier PETA Person of the Year winners like Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey and Anjelica Huston and celebrities like Olivia Munn, Eva Mendes and Alicia Silverstone who have worked with PETA to create awareness of animal cruelty in fashion.