This intense actor's early years were seemingly as dramatic as any of his film roles. As children, the Phoenix siblings---including Summer and the late River---traveled the world with their missionary hippie parents. In the 1980s the Phoenixes worked as child actors, and eldest River became a breakout star. Billed under the name Leaf, Joaquin did his share of TV guest spots and small film roles, notably as a disaffected teen in the 1989 movie Parenthood
. He then disappeared from showbiz for six years, during which time he reverted to his given name and watched River die from a drug overdose outside a Los Angeles nightspot. (Joaquin's desperate 911 call was played ad nauseam on the news for months.) In 1995 he made a triumphant return to the big screen in the black comedy To Die For
as an easily manipulated teen murderer. Although his next film, Inventing the Abbotts
, failed to register at the box office, it sparked a romance with costar Liv Tyler. A turning point for the actor came in 2000 when his deliciously villainous turn in Gladiator
earned him an Oscar nod. His fiery style was subsequently put to use in a number of high-profile projects, including Quills
. In 2005 Phoenix earned rave reviews, a Golden Globe award and his second Oscar nomination for playing Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic Walk the Line,
which featured Phoenix performing his own singing for the part. In other musical ventures, he has directed music videos---including videos for Silversun Pickups and Albert Hammond Jr.---and, in 2008, he announced his retirement from film to focus on a rap career, discussing the matter in an erratic guest appearance the following year on The Late Show With David Letterman
. Away from the silver screen, he is a social activist, championing animal rights and supporting charitable organizations such as Amnesty International and the Peace Alliance.Joaquin Phoenix Fast Facts:
- Spent childhood traveling through Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico with his Christian missionary parents.
- Broke into acting on brother River's TV series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
- Changed his first name to Leaf as a child partially because few could properly pronounce Joaquin; changed it back in the early 1990s.
- Starred in two M. Night Shyamalan movies: Signs, (2002) in which he replaced Mark Ruffalo, and The Village (2005).
- Left acting for a career in rap in 2008; the followng year, he discussed his decision, awkwardly, on The Late Show With David Letterman.
- Joaquin Phoenix Relationships:
- John Phoenix - Father
- Arlyn Dunetz Phoenix - Mother
- Liberty Phoenix - Sister
- Rain Phoenix - Sister
- River Phoenix - Brother
- Summer Phoenix - Sister
- Liv Tyler - Ex-significant Other
- Joaquin Phoenix Awards:
- 2006 Grammy: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media - Winner
- 2005 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2000 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Nominee
- 2008 People's Choice Awards: Favorite Leading Man - Winner
- 2006 CMT Music Awards: Collaborative Video of the Year - Nominee
- 2005 BAFTA Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2000 BAFTA Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Nominee
- 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - Nominee
- 2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - Nominee
- 2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Nominee
- 2013 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Nominee
- 2012 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2012 BAFTA Awards: Best Leading Actor - Nominee
- 2006 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy - Winner
- 2001 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture - Nominee