Joaquin Phoenix for PETA


The Fourth Estate isn’t the only thing Joaquin Phoenix wants to avoid.

For the most part, Phoenix stays off the map of celebrity news — the press-shy actor rarely gives interviews, and has no social media presence for click-hungry outlets to dissect post by post. Which is why, when he does pop up in a promotional capacity, it’s likely to be in support of a cause the actor holds near and dear. Today, that cause is sheep.

The actor takes on animal cruelty in the wool industry in a new campaign released by PETA. Phoenix may rarely don a suit for the red carpet, but there he is, standing in a pasture surrounded by sheep, decked in a burgundy vegan wool suit for his video promo appearance. “I thought I was avoiding wool. I never knew suits were made of wool,” says the actor, a lifelong vegan, as the video cuts to footage of him hand-feeding a rescued sheep. “I had that rationalization ‘wool is something that is just taken off them, and there’s not a lot of abuse.’ Which seems incredibly naive. I realized it was something I wanted to avoid.”

He joins the growing list of celebrities who have volunteered their name and time to the organization, which doesn’t pay for appearances. Eva Mendes, Alicia Silverstone, Olivia Munn and Penélope Cruz have all mugged for PETA in the past.

Phoenix hasn’t just been hanging out at the Gentle Barn sanctuary as of late — he has several movie projects in the works, including starring roles in “Mary Magdalene” and “You Were Never Really Here,” both set for 2017 releases. A few weeks ago, it was announced that he’d signed on as the lead in Gus Van Sant’s upcoming film “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.” That film marks a reunion for the duo, who last worked together over 20 years ago on the black comedy “To Die For.”

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