Joaquin Phoenix
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Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix in 2018.jpg
Joaquin Rafael Bottom

(1974-10-28) October 28, 1974 (age 45)
Other namesLeaf Phoenix
OccupationActor, producer
Years active1982-present
Full list
Rooney Mara (2016-present)
RelativesRiver Phoenix (brother)
Rain Phoenix (sister)
Liberty Phoenix (sister)
Summer Phoenix (sister)
AwardsFull list

Joaquin Rafael Phoenix[a] (; né Bottom; born October 28, 1974) is an American actor and producer. He has received numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards.

As a child, Phoenix started acting in television with his brother River and sister Summer. His first major film role was in SpaceCamp (1986). During this period, he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, a name he gave himself. He later went back to his original name and received positive reviews for his supporting work in the comedy-drama film To Die For (1995) and the period film Quills (2000). He received wider attention for his portrayal of Commodus in the historical drama film Gladiator (2000), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He subsequently earned Best Actor nominations for portraying musician Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005), an alcoholic war veteran in The Master (2012), and the title character in Joker (2019), winning for the latter. His other films include the horror films Signs (2002) and The Village (2004), the historical drama Hotel Rwanda (2004), the romantic drama Her (2013), the crime satire Inherent Vice (2014), and the psychological thriller You Were Never Really Here (2017), winning the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor for the latter.

Phoenix has also ventured into directing music videos, as well as producing films and television shows. For recording the soundtrack to Walk the Line, he won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media. He is a social activist and has lent his support to several charities and humanitarian organizations. He is on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization which provides daily meals to school students in the South African town of Soweto. He is also known for his animal rights advocacy; he has been a vegan since the age of three and often campaigns with PETA and In Defense of Animals.[3][4] For his lifelong dedication to animal rights, he was named PETA's Person of the Year in 2019.[5]

Early life

Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom in the Río Piedras district of San Juan on October 28, 1974,[6] the son of American parents from the U.S. mainland. He is the third of five children, following River (1970-1993) and Rain (born 1972), and preceding Liberty (born 1976) and Summer (born 1978), all of whom are actors. He also has a half-sister named Jodean (born 1964) from his father's previous relationship.[7] He was born with a mark on his lip, which he claims is not a cleft lip.[8] His father, John Lee Bottom, is originally from California and is of mostly English descent with some German and remote French ancestry.[9][10][11] His mother, Arlyn (née Dunetz), was born in New York City to Ashkenazi Jewish parents and is of Hungarian and Russian descent.[12][13][14][15] Arlyn moved to California, meeting Phoenix's father while hitchhiking. They married in 1969; years later, they joined a religious cult called the Children of God and began traveling throughout South America. They eventually became disenchanted with the cult and decided to leave the group, returning to the U.S. in 1977 when Phoenix was three years old.[7][8] They changed their last name to Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes, symbolizing a new beginning.[1] Phoenix began calling himself "Leaf" around this time, having been inspired by spending time outdoors raking leaves and desiring to have a nature-related name like his siblings. This became the name he used as a child actor, until he changed it back to Joaquin at age 15.[2]

Acting career

Early career

In order to provide food and financial support for the family, the children performed at various talent contests, singing and playing instruments.[16] In Los Angeles, his mother started working as an executive secretary for NBC, and his father worked as a landscape architect.[7] Phoenix and his siblings were eventually discovered by one of Hollywood's leading children's agents, Iris Burton, who got the five children acting work, mainly doing commercials and television show appearances.[17] At the age of eight, Joaquin made his acting debut alongside his brother River in the television series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in the 1982 episode "Christmas Song".[18] In his first major role, Phoenix co-starred opposite River in the ABC Afterschool Special entitled Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984).[19] Also in 1984, Phoenix made guest appearances in the Murder, She Wrote episode "We're Off to Kill the Wizard" with his sister Summer, and individual episodes of The Fall Guy and Hill Street Blues.[20][21]

After appearing in the CBS television film Kids Don't Tell (1985), Phoenix made his theatrical film debut in SpaceCamp (1986) as Max, a 12-year-old who goes to Kennedy Space Center to learn about the NASA space program and undergoes amateur astronaut training.[18] He guest starred in the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "A Very Happy Ending" in the same year, playing a child who blackmails a hitman (played by Robert Loggia) into killing his father (John Aprea).[22] Phoenix's first starring role was in Russkies (1987), about a group of friends who unknowingly befriend a Russian soldier during the Cold War.[22] Phoenix then appeared in Ron Howard's comedy-drama Parenthood (1989), in which he played the withdrawn teenage nephew of Steve Martin's character.[23] The film was well received by critics and grossed $126 million worldwide.[24] Phoenix was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actor in a Feature Film for his performance in the film.[21] After establishing himself as a child actor, Joaquin decided to retire from acting for a while and traveled to Mexico and South America with his father.[25]

On October 31, 1993, three days after Joaquin's 19th birthday, his older brother River died of an overdose outside The Viper Room. Phoenix, who had accompanied his brother and older sister Rain to the club, called 911 to seek help for his dying brother. After River's death, the phone call was repeatedly broadcast on TV and radio shows. As a result of the media glare, his family retreated from the public.[26][27]

1995-1999: Return to acting

During the comeback portion of his career, Phoenix was often cast in supporting roles as conflicted, insecure characters with a dark side. In 1995, he co-starred in To Die For, as a disturbed young man who is seduced by a woman (Nicole Kidman) to commit murder. Directed by Gus Van Sant, the film was screened out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and became a financial and critical success, resulting in a domestic box office total of $21  million. New York Times critic Janet Maslin praised Phoenix's performance, writing "So pity poor Jimmy. Rivetingly played by Mr Phoenix with a raw, anguished expressiveness that makes him an actor to watch for, Jimmy is both tempted and terrified by Suzanne's slick amorality. In that, he speaks for us all."[28][29][30]

In 1997, Phoenix played a small-town troublemaker in Oliver Stone's U Turn, and a poor man in love with a rich woman in Inventing the Abbotts. The films were received with mostly mixed and negative reviews, respectively, and neither performed well at the box office.[31][32]

The following year, Phoenix starred in Clay Pigeons (1998) as a young man in a small town who befriends a serial killer. Budgeted at $8 million,[33] the film became a box office flop, grossing only $1 million and was, like Phoenix's previous projects, not well received by critics.[34]

In his next film, 8mm (1999), Phoenix co-starred as an adult video store employee who helps Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) penetrate the underworld of illegal pornography. The film turned out be a box office success, grossing $96 million worldwide,[35] but found few admirers among critics.[36]

2000-2005: Critical acclaim and commercial success

Phoenix in Cannes for The Yards in May 2000

In 2000, Phoenix co-starred in three films. He made his first collaboration with director James Gray in The Yards. The film follows the corruption in the rail yards of Queens. Although failing to perform at the box office,[37]The Yards was received with positive reviews.[38] That same year, Phoenix played a fictionalized version of Roman Emperor Commodus in the historical epic film Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott. The film was a massive financial and critical success, becoming one of the highest earning films of 2000, with a worldwide box office gross of $457 million[39] and received universal critical praise.[40] The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture.[41] For his performance, which the critic Lisa Schwarzbaum described as "deliciously creepy perversity", Phoenix was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture, the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and received his first nomination for the Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor. He and late brother River Phoenix became the first brothers to be nominated for acting Academy Awards. To date they are the only brothers to hold this distinction.[42] Later, he portrayed the conflicted priest Abbé de Coulmier in Quills. Inspired by the life and work of the Marquis de Sade, the film premiered in the United States at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2000, and was a modest art house success grossing a total of $17 million at the box office,[43] but it was received with critical praise,[44] eventually receiving three Academy Award nominations at the 73rd Annual Academy Awards and The National Board of Review selected the film as its Best Film of 2000.[45] For his combined roles, Phoenix won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor and the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor.[46]

The following year, Phoenix starred in the satirical film Buffalo Soldiers (2001) as a U.S. Army soldier. The world premiere was held at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival in early September. However, because the film was a satire of the US military, its wider theatrical run was delayed by approximately two years because of the September 11 attacks; it was finally released on July 25, 2003.[47] Although the film was a box office flop,[48] it was received with mostly positive reviews.[49] Famed critic Roger Ebert praised Phoenix for his "spot-on performance".[50] Phoenix was nominated for the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor.[51]

Phoenix also starred in M. Night Shyamalan's science fiction thriller Signs (2002). Phoenix plays Merrill Hess, a former Minor League baseball player who, along with his older brother Graham (Mel Gibson), discovers that Earth has been invaded by extraterrestrials. The film was a massive financial success, grossing $408 million on its $72 million budget,[52] and was received with positive reviews.[53]Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers praised Phoenix's performance, writing "Phoenix registers impressively, finding the humor and the pain in this lost boy".[54]

In 2003, Phoenix played the irresolute husband of a superstar-skater in It's All About Love,[55] and voiced Kenai in the Disney animated film, Brother Bear. The film grossed $250 million worldwide[56] and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.[57] He was replaced by Patrick Dempsey in the sequel Brother Bear 2.[58]

In 2004, Phoenix paired with Shyamalan again, playing a lovestruck farmer in The Village. It received mixed reviews[59] but was a financial success, grossing $256 million worldwide on its $60 million budget.[60] For his second film that year, Phoenix starred in the drama film Ladder 49 as a Baltimore firefighter. The film earned $102 million at the box office[61] despite receiving generally mixed reviews.[62]Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising the performances in the film.[63] Phoenix's final film of 2004 was Terry George's Hotel Rwanda, playing photographer Jack Daglish. The film was a moderate financial success[64] but was a critical success, receiving almost exclusively positive reviews from critics.[65] For his performance in the film, Phoenix was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture along with the cast.[66]

Phoenix being interviewed at the premiere of Walk the Line in 2005

In 2005, Phoenix starred in the James Mangold directed film Walk the Line, a Johnny Cash biopic, after Cash himself approved of Phoenix.[67] All of Cash's vocal tracks in the film and on the accompanying soundtrack are played and sung by Phoenix.[68]Roger Love was his vocal coach on this film.[69] The film was released on November 18, 2005, eventually grossing $186 million.[70] Phoenix's performance received rave reviews from critics and it inspired film critic Roger Ebert to write, "Knowing Johnny Cash's albums more or less by heart, I closed my eyes to focus on the soundtrack and decided that, yes, that was the voice of Johnny Cash I was listening to. The closing credits make it clear it's Joaquin Phoenix doing the singing, and I was gob-smacked".[71] For his portrayal of Johnny Cash, Phoenix was nominated for his second Academy Award, in the category of Best Actor as well as the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for the film's soundtrack.[72][73][74] Earlier that year, he narrated Earthlings (2005), a documentary about the investigation of animal abuse in factory farms, pet mills and for scientific research. He was awarded the Humanitarian Award at the San Diego Film Festival in 2005, for his work and contribution to Earthlings.[75]

2006-2010: Producing and self-imposed break

In 2006, Phoenix was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[76] In 2007, Phoenix reunited with director James Gray for the film We Own the Night, which he also produced. In the film, Phoenix played a New York nightclub manager who tries to save his brother and father from Russian mafia hit men. The film premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival,[77] receiving mixed reviews from critics[78] and grossed a total of $54.5 million worldwide.[79] Critic Peter Travers described Phoenix as "electrifying and then some",[80] and he was awarded the People's Choice Award for Favorite Leading Man for the performance.[81] For his second film of 2007, Phoenix also reunited with director Terry George for the film Reservation Road. In it, Phoenix played a father obsessed with finding out who killed his son in a hit-and-run accident. The film failed at the box office[82] and received negative reviews from critics,[83] with film critic Peter Travers writing "Even the best actors - and I'd rank Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo among their generation's finest - can't save a movie that aims for tragedy but stalls at soap opera."[84]

Phoenix made his third collaboration with director James Gray in the film Two Lovers (2008), where he played a bachelor torn between the family friend his parents wish he would marry and his beautiful but volatile new neighbor. Two Lovers premiered in competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival in May, receiving largely positive reviews,[85][86] especially Phoenix who was praised by film critics David Edelstein who wrote "He [Phoenix] is, once again, stupendous, and stupendous in a way he has never been before" and Roger Ebert describing his performance as "perfect pitch".[87][88]Two Lovers grossed $16 million worldwide.[89]

Phoenix's mockumentary film I'm Still Here (2010)[90] premiered at the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 6, 2010. The film was directed by Phoenix's then brother-in-law Casey Affleck and was also written by Affleck and Phoenix himself. The film purports to follow the life of Phoenix, from the announcement of his retirement from acting, through his transition into a career as a hip hop artist.[91] Filming officially began on January 16, 2009 at a Las Vegas nightclub.[92] Throughout the filming period, Phoenix remained in character for public appearances, giving many the impression that he was genuinely pursuing a new career. Although widely suspected to be a "mockumentary," the fact that the events of the film had been deliberately staged was not disclosed until after the film had been released.[93] The film received mixed reviews[94] and failed at the box office.[95][96]

2012-2018: Comeback and further acclaim

In 2011, it was announced that Phoenix would star in Paul Thomas Anderson's drama film The Master (2012). Phoenix played Freddie Quell, a sex-obsessed alcoholic World War II veteran struggling to adjust to a post-war society.[97] The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival where Phoenix won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor.[98] The art house film only grossed $28 million[99] but was received with universal critical acclaim, with the acting performances receiving high praise, especially Phoenix's.[100]Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone gave Phoenix high praise stating "Joaquin Phoenix in the performance of his career. Phoenix wears the role like a second skin; he's a volcano in full eruption. You can't take your eyes off him."[101] His performance was publicly lauded by fellow actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Jessica Chastain and Robert Duvall.[102][103][104] Phoenix received his third Academy Award nomination, his second for Best Actor,[105] as well as nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama and BAFTA Award for Best Actor.[106][107]

The cast of Her at the New York Film Festival in 2013

In 2013, Phoenix starred in romantic science-fiction drama film Her directed by Spike Jonze. In it, Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice. It had its premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 12, 2013.[108]Her had a worldwide gross of $47 million[109] and received widespread critical acclaim, along with Phoenix's performance.[110] Film critics Manohla Dargis and David Edelstein agreed that no other actor could have done the role but Phoenix, stating "Her is even harder to imagine without Mr. Phoenix, an actor who excels at exquisite isolation" and "It's hard to imagine someone more affecting than Phoenix in the role" respectively,[111][112][113] and Phoenix received his fourth nomination for the Golden Globe Award.[114] The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.[115] Also in 2013, Phoenix collaborated with director James Gray for the fourth time in the drama film The Immigrant. He starred as Bruno Weiss, a pimp who prostitutes Polish immigrant Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and ends up falling for her. It was screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival[116] as well as at the 2013 New York Film Festival.[117] The film was released in the United States on May 16, 2014.[118]The Immigrant was not successful at the box office[119] but received positive reviews from critics.[120]

In 2014, Phoenix reunited with director Paul Thomas Anderson for the crime comedy-drama film Inherent Vice, the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon book. Phoenix played the role of Doc, a private investigator and hippie/dope head trying to help his ex-girlfriend solve a crime.[121]Inherent Vice premiered as the centerpiece at the New York Film Festival on October 4, 2014[122] and went nationwide on January 9, 2015.[123] It was met with mostly positive reviews with many critics praising the film for its acting performances, while some were frustrated by its complicated plot,[124] however it only grossed $11.1 million at the box office.[125] Phoenix was nominated for his fifth Golden Globe Award for his performance.[73]

Phoenix starred in the 2015 mystery comedy-drama Irrational Man. Directed by Woody Allen, the film was screened out of competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, received mixed to positive reviews,[126] and began a theatrical release on July 17, 2015.[127] Phoenix narrated his second documentary for Nation Earth about animal rights called Unity (2015). It was released on August 12, 2015.[128]

Gus Van Sant and Joaquin Phoenix at the press conference of Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot at Berlinale 2018

Phoenix starred in four movies released in 2018: In the first, Phoenix portrayed Jesus in Garth Davis's Mary Magdalene, opposite Rooney Mara. It was released in the United Kingdom on March 16, 2018 to mixed reviews.[129] The film's original distributor has been the cause of the film's delayed U.S. release.[130] Later, Phoenix starred as Joe, a former FBI agent and Gulf War veteran suffering from PTSD, in the Amazon Studios thriller You Were Never Really Here (2017), written and directed by Lynne Ramsay. The film premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received wide critical acclaim, and won Phoenix the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor.[131][132][133] The film began its US release on April 6, 2018. Many critics agreed the performance is one of Phoenix' best to date, with Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times describing it as "the most rivetingly contained" work of his career.[134] In his third feature of the year, Phoenix portrayed quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan in his second feature with director Gus Van Sant, the biopic Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot. The film was released on July 13, 2018 and Phoenix's lead performance received critical acclaim.[135] His last film role of 2018 was as Charlie Sisters in Jacques Audiard's English-language debut, an adaptation of Patrick deWitt's historical novel, The Sisters Brothers. The film was released on September 21, 2018.[136] This same year, he also collaborated with Rooney Mara, Sia, Sadie Sink and Kat von D to narrate Chris Delforce's animal rights documentary Dominion.[137] For his contribution to the documentary, he was granted the 2018 Award of Excellence for Narration by Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.[138]

2019-present: Joker and acclaim

In 2019, Phoenix starred as the iconic DC Comics character The Joker in Todd Phillips's neo-noir psychological thriller Joker. The film premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion,[139] with Phoenix receiving praise for his performance. Varietys Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Phoenix is astonishing as a mentally ill geek who becomes the killer-clown Joker in Todd Phillips' neo-Taxi Driver knockout: the rare comic-book movie that expresses what's happening in the real world."[140] The film was theatrically released in the United States on October 4, 2019,[141] and became a box office success, grossing over $1 billion, making it the first R-rated film to pass the billion-dollar mark at the worldwide box office.[142] His performance was lauded by fellow actors Kathy Bates and Jessica Chastain, among others.[143][144] Phoenix received his first Academy Award, his fourth Academy Award nomination, his third in the Best Actor category and won his first BAFTA award in the category Best Actor in a Leading Role, won his second Golden Globe in the category Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, his second Critics Choice Award in the category Best Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.[145][146][147][148][149][150]

Phoenix is set to star in Mike Mills's next film, which will be produced and distributed by A24. The film will be shot in the fall of 2019 and early 2020.[151]

Other work

He has directed music videos for Ringside,[152]She Wants Revenge,[153]People in Planes,[154]Arckid,[155]Albert Hammond Jr.,[156] and Silversun Pickups.[157]

Phoenix served as one of the executive producers of a television show called 4Real, a half-hour series which showcase celebrity guests on global adventures "in order to connect with young leaders who are creating social and economic change".[158] He is also listed as a producer on the movie We Own the Night. In music, he was said to have produced the opening track for Pusha T's My Name Is My Name album alongside Kanye West. The track is called "King Push". Phoenix then denied in a statement to XXL having produced the record, saying, "While it was widely reported that Pusha T used my beat and that I produced his song, I can't take any credit. A friend's son played me his music, and all I did was make an introduction to Kanye [West]'s camp."[159] He is set to produce a documentary about LGBT teenagers on summer camp.[160]

Personal life

In early April 2005, Phoenix checked into rehab to be treated for alcoholism.[161] On his religious background, Phoenix has said, "My parents believed in God. I'm Jewish, my mom's Jewish, but she believes in Jesus, she felt a connection to that. But they were never religious. I don't remember going to church, maybe a couple of times."[162]

Phoenix at the New York Film Festival in 2014

Since 2006, he has been living in the Hollywood Hills.[163] On January 26, 2006, while driving down a winding canyon road in Hollywood, Phoenix veered off the road and flipped his car. The crash was reportedly caused by brake failure. Shaken and confused, Phoenix heard someone tapping on his window and telling him to "just relax." Unable to see the man, Phoenix replied, "I'm fine. I am relaxed." The man replied, "No, you're not," and stopped Phoenix from lighting a cigarette while gasoline was leaking into the car cabin. Phoenix then realized that the man was famed German film director Werner Herzog. While Herzog helped Phoenix out of the wreckage by breaking the back window of the car, bystanders phoned for an ambulance. Phoenix approached Herzog to express his gratitude, but Herzog returned to his home nearby.[164][165]

Phoenix unexpectedly announced in late 2008 that he had retired from acting to pursue a rapping career, and that the forthcoming Two Lovers would be his last film. On February 11, 2009, Phoenix appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote Two Lovers. He seemed incoherent and was mostly unresponsive towards David Letterman's questions about the film and his career plans.[166][167][168] Phoenix appeared on Late Show again on September 22, 2010, and revealed that his "retirement" and eccentric behavior were for a mockumentary, I'm Still Here (2010), that he and Casey Affleck were filming.

In October 2012, Phoenix labeled the Academy Awards "bullshit." He later gave an interview apologizing for his earlier comments and acknowledging that the Oscars provide an important platform for many deserving filmmakers.[169][170] He elaborated on the topic while on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2015, saying that he is uncomfortable receiving accolades for his work in movies when he considers the filmmaking process to be a collaborative one.[171]

Phoenix is famously known for his anxiety when acting and when receiving awards for acting: "I still get nauseous [sic] the day before and have weeks of incredible anxiety," he said during a 2012 interview with Interview Magazine. He added: "They have to put fucking pads in my armpits because I sweat so much that it just drips down my wardrobe. For the first three weeks of shooting, I'm just sweating. It's pure anxiety, and I love it."[172]

Phoenix dated his Inventing the Abbotts co-star Liv Tyler from 1995 to 1998[173] and South African model Topaz Page-Green from 2001 to 2005.[174] Since late 2016, he has been dating Rooney Mara.[175][176] In July 2019, it was confirmed that they are engaged.[177]


Phoenix has long been a social activist, lending his support to a number of charities and humanitarian organizations, such as Amnesty International, The Art of Elysium, HEART, and the Peace Alliance (which campaigns for a United States Department of Peace).[3] Phoenix is also on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization which provides daily meals to students of township schools in Soweto, South Africa, which was founded by his ex-girlfriend, South African model Topaz Page-Green.[178]

Phoenix is widely known for his animal rights advocacy and is a vegan. He has collaborated with animal rights organizations to spread awareness about animal abuse and to promote veganism. Phoenix is a member of In Defense of Animals and PETA and has campaigned for both.[3][4] He does not wear any clothes made out of animal skin. In his films, he requests that leather costumes be made from synthetic materials. However, in a 2014 Playboy interview, he stated otherwise, saying that the boots in Walk the Line were "vintage".[179]

For Nation Earth he narrated Earthlings (2005), a documentary about humanity's economic dependence on animals.[180] He was awarded the Humanitarian Award at the San Diego Film Festival in 2005, for his work and contribution to Earthlings.[75] He narrated his second documentary for Nation Earth called Unity (2015), along with other celebrity vegans such as actress Jessica Chastain and comedian Ellen DeGeneres.[128]

In 2017, he executive-produced the documentary What the Health, which premiered on June 16, 2017, on Netflix. The film says it "expose[s] the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick".[181] In 2019, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals named Phoenix "Person of the Year", releasing the following statement: "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".[182]

On January 10, 2020, Phoenix was arrested with actress Jane Fonda at a climate change protest outside the United States Capitol at Washington, D.C. At the protest, Phoenix spoke about the link between animal agriculture and climate change.[183] On February 2, 2020, after being awarded the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Joker, Phoenix lambasted the lack of diversity in the 2020 BAFTA nominations, as all of the nominees in the four main acting categories are white.[184]

In February 2020, Phoenix starred in Guardians of Life, the first of twelve short films by the environmental organization Mobilize Earth that highlight the most pressing issues facing humanity and the natural world. Funds raised by the project will go to Amazon Watch and Extinction Rebellion.[185] During his 2020 Oscar acceptance speech, he passionately promoted societal equality and animal rights, ending with a tribute to his brother, River Phoenix.[186] This speech garnered acclaim and a backlash from the dairy industry.[187][188]


Awards and nominations

Phoenix is the recipient of an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Grammy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival and the Award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, among numerous other accolades from industry groups, critics' associations, and film festivals.

Joaquin and River hold the distinction of being the only brothers nominated for acting Academy Awards.[42] Both Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger won an Academy Award for their roles as the Joker, becoming the second pair of actors to be win Academy Awards for playing the same character - the other pair being Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, who won Best Actor and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor respectively, for their portrayals of Vito Corleone.[189]

See also


  1. ^ In his childhood he went by the name Leaf Rafael Phoenix from 1979 to 1989. At age 15, he changed his given name back to "Joaquin Rafael Phoenix".[1][2]


  1. ^ a b "PREMIERE April 1988". Retrieved 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Joaquin Phoenix". Hello!. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Joaquin Phoenix's Charity Work". Look to the Stars. Retrieved 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Fake leather please!". Daily News and Analysis. November 14, 2006. Retrieved 2012.
  5. ^ "Kind and Committed: Joaquin Phoenix Is PETA's Person of the Year".
  6. ^ Contemporary theatre, film, and television, Gale Research Co., 2002, p. 213, ISBN 978-0-7876-6360-5
  7. ^ a b c Howden, Martin (January 10, 2011). He's Still Here: The Biography of Joaquin Phoenix. ISBN 9781843584308. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Sullivan, Ferenc (March 25, 2016). "Hungarian Roots: Joaquin Phoenix, Grammy And Golden Globe-Winning US Actor". Hungary Today. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot". AMC Theatres. Retrieved 2018. his father, from California, is of mostly British Isles descent.
  11. ^ Macintyre, James (February 27, 2018). "Joaquin Phoenix on how playing 'heart-wrenching' Jesus in 'Mary Magdalene' inspires him to be 'more empathetic, considerate and forgiving'". Christian Today. Retrieved 2018.
  12. ^ Marrache, Yaakov (September 25, 2013). "Top 10 Hollywood: Jews you may not have guessed". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (April 11, 2002). "The Days of Summer". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ Corner, Lena (July 9, 2011). "Rain Phoenix's unusual childhood". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ Friedman, Roger (October 24, 2005). "'Walk the Line' Star Won't Campaign for Oscar". Fox News. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Vernon, Polly (February 15, 2004). "Summer Phoenix: Coping with Hollywood". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018. Summer Phoenix: "We had no money. All we had was each other. It's all you need."
  17. ^ "Iris Burton, 77; Hollywood agent represented child actors". Los Angeles Times. April 10, 2008. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon (January 28, 2015). "When he was Leaf: The early roles of Joaquin Phoenix". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2018.
  19. ^ "Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984)". AllMovie. Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ Hirschberg, Lynn (September 18, 2005). "My Name Is Joaquin, and I Am an Actor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018.
  21. ^ a b Editors (May 30, 2017). "Joaquin Phoenix Biography". Retrieved 2018.
  22. ^ a b Hayes, Britt (January 28, 2013). "Way Back When: Oscar Nominee Joaquin Phoenix". ScreenCrush. Retrieved 2018.
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