Australia fires, climate change take center stage at the Golden Globes

At the Golden Globes, Cate Blanchett, from left, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Aniston and Pierce Brosnan. At Sunday night's ceremony, all brought up the bush fires in Australia.
(Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

The devastating wildfires in Australia and the impact of climate change became a surprising touchstone for both winners and presenters during the 2020 Golden Globes.

The issue took center stage early in the ceremony when Jennifer Aniston announced that Russell Crowe, who won for actor in a miniseries or movie made for television, was not in attendance because he was in Australia protecting his home and family.

Crowe, who won the award for for his portrayal of late Fox News head Roger Ailes in Showtime’s “The Loudest Voice,” sent a statement that took aim at government officials and others who have denied the effects of climate change.

“Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based,” said Crowe in the statement, which was read by Aniston. “We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future.”


Robert Crowe made a moving political statement in his absentee acceptance speech, which included an indictment of those in government who continually deny the effects of climate change.

Ellen DeGeneres, who was presented with the honorary Carol Burnett Award for excellence in television, also made note of the disaster. “Before I say anything,” she told the audience, “Australia, I love you. My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering in Australia … all the animals that we’ve lost.”

Introducing his sons as this year’s Golden Globe ambassadors, actor Pierce Brosnan said, “Speaking of opening our hearts, all of us at the Golden Globes and the HFPA send our thoughts to the people affected by the bush fires in Australia. Stay strong. We’re with you. God bless.”

And host Ricky Gervais ended the awards show by saying, “Please donate to Australia.”

Here is what other celebrities at the ceremony said about the Australia fires:

Naomi Watts, Crowe’s “Loudest Voice” costar and a native of Australia : "[Crowe’s] comments were important and moving. We’ve been in touch on text message. I’ve just come from there and left before it got bad, but my nan and my mum are on high alert.”

Australia-born Cate Blanchett thanked the volunteer firefighters battling the blazes and added, “When one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster”

Sarah Snook of HBO’s “Succession”: “I’m totally for Russell’s comments. Our country is burning and we need to figure out a way to combat it. I think there’s a lot of attention on the issue now, but we need to act preventatively.”

Laura Dern, accepting the award for supporting actress in a motion picture for “Marriage Story”: “I feel so blessed to be part of a film that, yes, tells the story of a family finding their way for their child through the end of a marriage, but the global look that Noah takes at what divisiveness is and how we must all come together as one for the sake of something greater. Perhaps our planet, even.”

Patricia Arquette, accepting the award for supporting actress in a TV series for Hulu’s “The Act,” with a speech that talked about the U.S. “on the brink of war” and “people not knowing if bombs are gonna drop on their kids’ heads,” added, “and the continent of Australia is on fire.”

And Phoebe Waller-Bridge told reporters backstage that she would auction the suit she wore to the ceremony and donate the proceeds for fire relief: “We’ve hatched an amazing plan with Ralph & Russo, our Australian designers, who made this incredible couture suit which is the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever worn, and we’re going to auction it and the money that is raised from it will go toward relief in Australia. I’m really excited to be part of that.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge at the Golden Globes
Phoebe Waller-Bridge accepting the award for actress in a comedy series for “Fleabag.” She plans to auction her suit for fire relief in Australia.
(Paul Drinkwater / NBC)

Times staff writers Amy Kaufman and Sonaiya Kelley contributed to this report.