Who is Joaquin Phoenix? What To Know About the Joker Actor

Who is Joaquin Phoenix? What To Know About the Joker Actor

At last, the caped crusader’s nemesis is getting his own movie. As the stage is being set for the superhero, or better put supervillain film, fans and moviegoers can’t wait to see what the clown prince of crime, Arthur Fleck/the Joker played by Joaquin Phoenix has in store. Phoenix is also a producer and an activist.

The actor has remained true to his last name, rendering remarkable performances in films such as the biopic Walk the Line as musician Johnny Cash and Her. He started as a child actor and has had a career that has spanned over two decades as well as has included several memorable characters. Let’s take a look at where the famous actor got his start and every other thing to know about him.

Who Is Joaquin Phoenix?

His journey began in the Río Piedras district of San Juan in the Carribean Island of Puerto Rico on October 28, 1974. Named Joaquin Rafael Bottom, he is the third of five children born to John Lee Botton and Arlyn (née Dunetz). His siblings include River, Rain, Liberty, and Summer. He also has a half-sister, Jodean from his father’s previous relationship.

Joaquin Phoenix has mixed ancestry. While both of his parents are from the US, he also has English, German, and French Huguenot ancestry courtesy of his father and Hungary and Russia roots from his mother. His parents tied the knots in September 1969.

River Phoenix was the first to make it big in the entertainment industry. He was born in 1970 but died 23 years later from a drug overdose. All the other Phoenix kids have also acted. One year before Joaquin was born, his family joined a religious movement or cult, depending on who you ask, known as Children of God.

After sojourning in Puerto Rico and preaching the message of the cult, they returned to America in 1978 and lived in Florida. Shortly after, they moved to California where the children were spotted by a talent agent, performing on the streets. That became the beginning of the Phoenix kids in the entertainment industry.

What To Know About the Joker Actor

Joaquin Phoenix is an atheist

Joaquin’s father was a lapsed Catholic while his mother was from a Jewish family. However, a few years after they got married, they joined the controversial church Children of God, known for their “Flirty Fishing” policies by which they encouraged their new converts by sleeping with them.

The family began traveling throughout South America as missionaries, spreading the message of the church. They lived in poverty as they were not paid by the cult for their services. They worked as fruit gatherers and encouraged their children to perform on the street for money. While Joaquin spent his early years in the cult, he is now an atheist.

Phoenix wasn’t his original last name

The family eventually become disenchanted with the group and left, returning to the U.S. in 1978. They changed their last name to Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes, as a way to solidify their new beginning.

Moreover, desiring a nature-related name like his siblings, he took on the name, Leaf. He used the name in his early career, until at age 15, when he changed it back to Joaquin.


By the time Joaquin Phoenix’s acting career took off, his elder brother has gained much ground in the industry, leaving him in his shadow. His early roles were in such films as Spacecamp, Ruskies, Parenthood, and the TV show, Murder, She Wrote under the name Leaf.

Who is Joaquin Phoenix? What To Know About the Joker Actor
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Following his brother’s tragic death in 1993, Joaquin Phoenix decided to withdraw from the public’s eye for a year to grieve, abandoning his career in turn. He, however, bounced back after two years with To Die For as the tragically confused and horny Jimmy Emmett which won him mostly positive reviews.

He managed to establish himself as an acclaimed actor in his own right. though some of his films like Inventing the Abbotts was a modest flop, others like Return to Paradise proved to be a bigger hit. He shared the screen within 8MM (1999). The movie was not a box office hit but it did win him acclaim for his portrayal of a thoughtful porn shop owner, Max California. The family talent didn’t die with his older brother after all.

At the turn of the century, Joaquin Phoenix landed one of his biggest and most extravagant roles to date as the devious Commodus in Ridley Scott‘s Gladiator. Apart from the role earning him international recognition and proving his dramatic versatility, the movie was also a departure from his generally likable characterizations and nabbed several Oscars nominations.

His other notable acting credits include Quills, Buffalo Soldiers, the rural alien invasion thriller Signs where he replaced Mark Ruffalo as Mel Gibson‘s younger brother. He would next turn up in 2003 as the voice of Kenai in the Disney animated film Brother Bear and then showed up in another thriller, The Village in 2004. Phoenix has continued to impress moviegoers with his memorable performances.

Over the course of his acting career, he has received a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and three Academy Award nominations.

In 2019, besides his role as Jesus in Mary Magdalene, he is set to take our hearts away with his titular role in Joker. It has been scheduled for an October 4, 2019 release.

Joaquin Phoenix battled with addiction

River Phoenix wasn’t the only Phoenix kid that had to face a demon. While he gave in to drugs and substance abuse, Joaquin’s own demon was alcoholism. He became aware of his dependence on alcohol while filming Walk The Line, which he made with his then-brother-in-law Casey Affleck; he was married to Summer Phoenix. He signed into rehab in 2005 when his drinking started to take over his life as well as affecting the quality of his movies.