The Extraordinary Life of Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix is an actor that is in a class of his own. Over the years, he has acted in a body of work that is vast, as much as it is impressive. Recently he won the Academy Award for his magnificent performance in Joker.

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Joaquin has had a real roller coaster ride of a life, full of ups and down, tragedies and huge success. Let’s start from the beginning.

An interesting family

Joaquin Phoenix was raised very differently from most people. His real name is Joaquin Rafael Bottom and he hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. His parents were missionaries from the Children of God, named Arlyn Bottom and John Lee Bottom. His mother is of Jewish descent, while his father has English, German and French ancestry.

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He is the middle child of five children. He had a brother River Phoenix who was a very famous actor, and his other siblings are all sisters who he is very close to. His sister Summer is an actress, model and designer. Joaquin was so inspired by his brother River and sister Summer’s names, as they related to nature, that he even changed his name to Leaf for a while.

The beginning of his career

Joaquin’s family was very poor, and in order to support the family, he and his siblings performed at different talent competitions, both singing, and playing musical instruments. His mother then got a job as one of NBC’s executive secretaries, while his father was a landscape architect.

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Iris Burton was a leading children’s agent in Hollywood, noticed the children and got them all work as actors. 

His first appearances

Joaquin first appeared in front of the cameras at the age of eight, alongside his brother River in the TV series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in an episode filmed in 1982 called “Christmas Song.” 

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His first really important role was with his brother River in the ABC Afterschool Special called Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia. More roles followed, and he eventually was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actor in a Feature Film for his acting skills in 1989’s Parenthood, directed by Ron Howard.  

Joaquin’s commitment to veganism

Joaquin has admitted that he has been a vegan since the age of 3, and couldn’t imagine eating something that inflicted pain on another creature. He says that it is “absurd and barbaric.” He has never strayed from his vegan ways.

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He believes so strongly in his veganism that he has participated in protests for animal rights, as he feels so strongly about it.

His Oscar nominations

Joaquin has been nominated for the prestigious Academy Award for Best Actor many times but hasn’t, as yet, taken home the statue. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his brilliant performance as Commodus in 2000’s Gladiator.

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Joaquin also won a Best Actor nomination as his portrayal of Johnny Cash in 2005’s Walk The Line as well as his performance in 2012’s The Master. He has most recently been nominated for 2019’s Joker

His love life

Joaquin dated the stunning Liv Tyler early on in his life. They were a really hot couple in the ‘90s. He also dated Ginnifer Goodwin, who is known for her roles in Mona Lisa Smile and Walk The Line.

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Amelia Warner was a girlfriend before Anna Paquin stepped into the picture. They made quite a pair. He dated fashion model Topaz Page-Green from 2001 to 2005. Joaquin is currently engaged to Rooney Mara. They met on the set of 2016’s Mary Magdalene

Charities & causes

Joaquin is a celebrity who is here to make a difference, and has worked with and supported many charities. Some of these charities include 4REAL Foundation, American Association of Retired Persons, American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR), American Red Cross, as well as, Amnesty International.

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Joaquin has a huge heart and supports many causes. Included in these causes are addiction, adoption, AIDS & HIV, climate change, animal cruelty, animals and veganism.  

Joaquin’s gorgeous co-stars

Joaquin has starred opposite some of the industry’s best looking starlets. These include actresses Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line & Inherent Vice), Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant), Emma Stone (Irrational Man), and Zazie Beetz (Joker). 

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There’s more though, and that includes Scarlett Johannson (Her) – she plays the voice of his AI lover, Eva Mendes (We Own The Night), Jacinda Barrett (Ladder 49) and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village), among others.

Messing around 

In 2010, Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix wrote I’m Still Here. It was directed by Casey Affleck and it’s a mockumentary spoof film following the life of Joaquin Phoenix as he announces his retirement from acting and transitions into a hip hop career.

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The whole purpose of this mockumentary as explained by Joaquin on David Letterman was to explore celebrity and the relationship between the media and the consumers and the celebrities themselves through the film. Joaquin stayed in character for the entire year, making some people believe he had lost touch with reality.

How Joaquin got his look for Joker

For 2019’s outstanding movie, Joker, Joaquin had to lose a massive 52 pounds. Joaquin has always been in great shape but having to lose so much weight took a huge undertaking. In June 2018, Joaquin weighed 180 pounds but had to get to 125 pounds by September.


Joaquin took drastic measures and started a severe weight loss diet where he lived on apples, lettuce and steamed green beans. No wonder Joaquin played the Joker so well, we would all go mad if we starved ourselves like that!

Joaquin’s A-list friends

Joaquin has been around for a long time in the showbiz industry. At the age of 45 years, he has been in at least 38 movies and accumulated many friends along the way.


Among his friends are Anthony Kiedis (lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers), Casey Affleck, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn and Matt Damon, among others.

Joaquin’s awards

Joaquin Phoenix may have not won the prestigious Oscar, but he has taken home other awards. He has been nominated 24 times in his film career and has won many times too.


He won the Golden Globe Award in 2006 for Walk The Line, and recently for 2020’s Joker. He also won an award for Joker at the Screen Actors Guild awards on January 19, 2020.

Joaquin’s beauty

Joaquin Phoenix definitely has leading man looks, but he is not your average Hollywood heartthrob. He is not your typical Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp pin up.


Joaquin has a scar above his left lip but he has never admitted if it is due to a cleft palate or lip. Joaquin has his own brooding good looks with light eyes that pierce right through you. He is simply beautiful in his own, distinct way.

Joaquin’s friendship with Heath Ledger

As we all know, before his death, Heath Ledger brilliantly played the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. When Joaquin accepted his SAG award for Joker, he paid tribute to Heath Ledger.


The two had actually met years before, in 2006, at the SAG awards. At the time, Heath was nominated for Brokeback Mountain and Joaquin was nominated for Walk The Line. They became friends, although their friendship didn’t really have time to grow, due to Heath’s untimely death.

Joaquin and brother River Phoenix were both nominated for Oscars

Many people are unaware of how brilliant an actor Joaquin’s brother River was. People took notice of him, not only because he was very beautiful, but because he was an excellent actor as well.

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River was nominated for an Oscar for 1988’s Running on Empty. Joaquin and his brother are one of the only brothers in Hollywood to both be nominated for an Oscars.

Joaquin nearly died in a car crash

In 2006, Joaquin was driving close by his home in the Hollywood Hills. Suddenly his breaks stopped working and he drove his car off the road, flipped it over and crashed it.


Miraculously, while he was stuck in his car, someone noticed that he was about to light a cigarette and stopped him when he noticed that petrol had leaked into the cabin. He smashed the rear window letting Phoenix escape. It turned out that the person who helped him was German film director Werner Herzog (Jack Reacher, What Dreams May Come).

Joaquin won a Grammy Award

Not only can Joaquin act, but he can sing too. He sang all the songs in 2005’s Walk The Line and learned to play the guitar too. Johnny Cash apparently approved Joaquin to play him because of his stunning performance in Gladiator.

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Joaquin won the Grammy Award in 2007 for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for the soundtrack of the movie Walk The Line.

His beautiful house

Joaquin lives in Los Angeles, California in a four bedroom house that has three bathrooms, and is a massive 3,753 square feet in size. His fiancee Mara Rooney lives with him.


He bought the home on March 29, 2013 for apparently $1,391,000 at the time. It is located down the street from former neighborhood resident Sage Stallone, who was the son of Sylvester Stallone.

Joaquin produced Netflix’s What The Health

Netflix’ documentary What The Health, was a fascinating documentary covering hard hitting topics of diet and what we put into our bodies every day.


It really got viewers thinking and even challenged the age old question of “where does diabetes come from?” After watching this documentary you are really left to feel a deep sadness for the animals we kill in order to consume.

Phoenix’ salary for Joker

Joker did phenomenally well at the box office , pulling in over $1 billion worldwide. It caused a huge stir and there is huge Oscar buzz that Joaquin will win the Academy Award for it.

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The movie cost $55 million to produce, and it is the first R-rated movie to make $1 billion in history. Not many people know though, that Joaquin was only paid $4.5 million for the role.

Joaquin goes full out for his roles

Joaquin takes his roles very seriously, and that’s the reason he has been nominated for an Academy Award four times (2001’s Gladiator, 2006’s Walk The Line, 2013’s The Master & 2020’s Joker). For his role in Walk The Line, Joaquin spent months at a music camp learning how to sing in the right octave to sound like Johnny Cash.

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He also read all of Johnny Cash’s biographies and practiced guitar over and over again. He even went to rehab to see what it felt like. He went so far as to tell the crew members to treat extras like real inmates during the Folsom Prison scene, denying them food or water. This created the necessary tension needed. Everyone had to call him J.R. on set as well. Now, that’s dedication to your role!

An historical Oscar speech

When Joaquin Phoenix finally won the Oscar for his portrayal of Joker on the 9th of February 2020, he did something very special. He did not thank his co-stars or directors of the film. Instead he used his Oscar win as a platform to use his voice.

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Joaquin gave a phenomenal speech where he spoke about animal rights and mentioned his late brother River Phoenix. “… We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.” He ended off his speech with “… When he was 17, my brother [River] wrote this lyric. He said: “run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”

Joaquin’s tattoo

Many people, the world over, were deeply inspired by Joaquin’s portrayal of Joker. They loved his character so much, that they now have colorful tattoos depicting him – some resembling Joaquin, a little too much! Although his character affected so many, Joaquin only has one tattoo of his own in real life.

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It is an imperfect circle that was inked into Joaquin’s left bicep. It happened during Italian fashion week in 2008. He mentioned that he had always wanted to get a tattoo, but he didn’t want it to be anything fashionable. So, in his own words, he got a “nothing” tattoo – just a badly drawn circle in black. It is hardly noticeable, and can only be seen when Joaquin wears a T-shirt.

Celebrating humbly

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Joaquin Phoenix is a down to earth, salt of the earth, humble kind of a guy – and it looks like the love of his life is too! After he won his Oscar and needed something to feast on, he didn’t go to any sort of fancy vegan restaurant – he didn’t need to do that.

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Joaquin and his fiancé, Rooney Mara, stopped off at Monty’s Good Burgers in Los Angeles. California. This burger joint serves nothing but 100% plant-based burgers, which are an absolute feast for the taste buds. They ate these burgers sitting on some steps, both smiling gleefully, while Rooney showed off her laced up All Stars sneakers. The Oscar award was simply placed in between them, standing nobly, facing forward.

A forgotten dark role

As we all know, Joaquin has been acting for a very long time, and in the beginning of his career he appeared as cameos, or in just small roles, before getting supporting actor, and of course, main lead roles. Back in 1999, a very dark movie came out starring Nicolas Cage. It was called 8mm and dealt with content of a purely adult nature.

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In this short role, Joaquin plays a dealer of movies of an adult nature. He has spiked black and blue hair, black eyeliner and wears a tight necklace and a tank top. Nicolas Cage’s character takes him aside and they walk outside where Nicolas Cage offers Joaquin’s character money for important information. This movie was one of the darkest mainstream movies to ever hit cinemas.

Joaquin’s famous birthday

Joaquin Phoenix was born on the 28th of October, 1974. But, did you know that he shares his birthday with other very famous celebrities? Firstly, he is a Scorpio, and Scorpios are known for their intensity and total pursuit of what they go after. It is no surprise that Bill Gates also shares this special birthday with Joaquin.

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Another major celebrity who shares this birthday with Joaquin is America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts, who was born on the same day, but in 1967. Julia’s a bit older than Joaquin and has been in about 13 more movies than he has. She has also been nominated for four Oscars (1990’s Steel Magnolias, 1991’s Pretty Woman, 2001’s Erin Brockovich and 2014’s August: Osage County), and has won once.

Joaquin wore the same tuxedo for every award show

In order to help the environment, Joaquin decided to wear the same tuxedo for all the award shows building up to the Oscars 2020. The tux in question was made by famous fashion designer Stella McCartney, who mentioned on her Instagram account that this would be done.

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In her own words, Stella said, “I am proud and honoured to join forces with you Joaquin, keep inspiring and keep shining your light x Stella.” Stella McCartney has always been a vegetarian and does not use any fur or leather in her apparel. She is the daughter of the very famous ex-Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney. The tuxedo is lovely and black, with a smart black bow tie to match. Joaquin looked very dapper in it.

When Joaquin was on Ellen

When Joaquin was on Ellen, back in 2015, Ellen DeGeneres thanked Joaquin over and over for being there as she knew how private he is. He told her that he had to be there as his family insisted on it. He mentioned to Ellen how he had fallen asleep relaxing to her comedy special, while his sisters were laughing.

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Ellen spoke to Joaquin about his role on the movie Inherent Vice (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) and they engage in silly banter about Joaquin having to walk around barefoot for the role. Ellen thanked him for coming on for the interview, that was no longer than 5 minutes and, as usual, Ellen made Joaquin as comfortable as can be.

He belongs to The Lunchbox Fund

Joaquin has a very big heart, and he is actually on the board of directors for a non-profit organization called The Lunchbox Fund. This non-profit organization gives meals on a daily basis to the students of township schools that are located in Soweto, South Africa. Soweto is a township found in the Gauteng province of South Africa.

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Many of these children come from the poorest of homes that are generally made of tin and are called “tin-shack” homes. They often sleep on the floor, and live together in these small shacks with their brothers and sisters, and often go without dinner. Sometimes these meals provided by The Lunchbox Fund, are the only food they get to eat during the week.

Joaquin’s dog’s rare allergy

Joaquin loves all animals and has a beautiful white female pit bull mix. He saved her from the shelter while she was on her way to being euthanized over 13 years ago. Her name is Soda and Joaquin loves taking her for walks outside, but unfortunately, Soda is allergic to sunlight.

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In order to combat this rare allergy, Joaquin bought her a suit especially made for this condition, so that he could take Soda to the beach. Unfortunately, Soda didn’t not like the outfit very much, so he has to keep her inside mostly during the day. It was important to him that both his and his fiance’s dogs, got along really well, and they did! Both him and Rooney Mara are animal lovers and this is a great thing for both their dogs.

Joaquin’s other name

When Joaquin was first starting out in TV and movies he went by another name – “Leaf” Phoenix. He gave himself this name as he wanted a more natural name like his other siblings River, Summer and Rain. The name was also inspired from his love of nature and the time he used to spend raking leaves.

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He was very serious about using this name and it appears in the credits for a few of his earlier movies and TV series including 1982’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (TV Series), 1986’s Morningstar/Eveningstar (TV Series), 1986’s SpaceCamp, 1987’s Russkies, 1988’s Secret Witness, 1989’s The New Leave It To Beaver (TV Series), 1989’s Parenthood, and a few others. He changed his name back to Joaquin when he was 15.

The roles that Joaquin could have been in

Joaquin Phoenix has been in a bevy of brilliant movie roles, and some really small ones too. He has, however, passed on some other roles too. These roles include 1996’s Scream’s Billy Loomis played by Skeet Ulrich, as well as 1997’s Boogie Night’s Dirk Diggler played by Mark Wahlberg (the movie was nominated for three Academy Awards).

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Joaquin was also considered for the role of Norman Bates for the 1999 remake of Psycho, however Vince Vaughn was chosen for the role. Adrian Brody took the role of Louis Simo in 2006’s Hollywood Land, beating Joaquin for it. Joaquin turned down the title role of 2016’s Doctor Strange that was then given to Benedict Cumberbatch. Even when it came to Joker, it took a lot of convincing before Joaquin said yes to the role. 

Joaquin has a real love for the movie Step Brothers

Joaquin Phoenix was on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon back in October, 2019, and Jimmy asked him to choose the truth out of three options. The choices were either that he has watched the movie Step Brothers more than any other movie, or he loves reality TV and thinks reality TV stars are the best actors in the world, or that one of his nicknames is kitten.

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After much time and delay, Joaquin admitted that he had watched 2008’s Step Brothers (starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly) more than any other movie in existence. Jimmy didn’t believe this at first but was quite impressed to learn this. Will Ferrell is known for having a distinct comedic style and it’s nice to know that Joaquin isn’t serious all the time and enjoys comedy too.

Joaquin & Rooney Mara love Converse All Star shoes

When Joaquin Phoenix was being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel, he placed his shoe comfortably on his chair, revealing a black Converse All Star shoe. Rooney Mara revealed her pair of 8-hole lace up Converse All Star boots under her 2020 Oscar dress, which actually looked really original., while eating a Vegan burger with Joaquin after the Oscars.

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Converse All Star shoes have been a very popular choice of shoe for many celebrities and people alike. Converse had started off as a sports shoe and was prominent in the NBA. Converse shoes are seen publicly as a really cool brand and have been featured in the movies Stand By Me (starring River Phoenix), Grease, Back To The Future, as well as I, Robot.

Prince William is a huge fan of his

The BAFTAs (British Academy Film Awards) are a very important ceremony celebrating the past year’s greatest movies. They are held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and were previously held on the 2nd of February 2020. Joker won many awards including best actor for Joaquin. The movie had been given a massive eleven nominations.

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After the awards, Prince William spoke to Joaquin Phoenix saying that it was lovely to meet him, and that he absolutely loved the movie Joker. He told Joaquin that it was brilliant, and that he had kept on putting it off, because people constantly told him to be careful when he chose to watch it. He admitted that he was glad not to watch it before going to sleep and told Joaquin, “huge congratulations on an amazing performance.”

Everything you need to know about Rooney Mara

Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara met back in 2012 while filming the movie Her. Rooney played Joaquin’s ex -wife in the film. Rooney is a few years younger than Joaquin. She made a breakthrough in her acting career when she starred in 2011’s movie The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for this role.

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Rooney has a generous spirit and heart and participates in charity work. She oversees the Uweza Foundation, which helps empower children and families in the Kibera, which is a part of Nairobi. She owns the vegan clothing brand Hiraeth Collective. Rooney has Irish, German, French-Canadian, English and Italian roots. She seems to be the perfect match for Joaquin, especially since they are both vegan.

Joaquin gets nervous

Joaquin Phoenix sat down with Anderson Cooper in early January 2020 for a 60 minute interview. During the interview Anderson asked Joaquin if he gets nervous. Joaquin replied that he absolutely does. He even admitted that he gets petrified. Anderson delved into this truth and asked Joaquin why he still gets petrified after so many years.

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Joaquin replied that there are so many things he wants to express, when he takes on a role. He goes through the script, with so many ideas. And, one of the reasons he gets so nervous is because he feels that he may not be able to express those ideas. Joaquin also admitted that he hates rehearsing with other actors as it feels fake to him. It’s the spontaneity and “moment” of the shoot that grabs him the most.

Joaquin – the chameleon

To be an actor, you need to be able to fit into many roles. Often it takes more than just a costume or a hair piece to “feel” the character being portrayed. Nobody knows this more than Joaquin, who has had to take on many transformations for his many different roles.

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As we all could see, Joaquin lost a lot of weight for Joker in order to be more convincing. For the 2017 movie You Were Never Really Here, Joaquin had a bigger body that was heavier set. In the 2018 movie, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, he had to have unevenly cut hair, that was given an orange dye. Who can forget 2010’s I’m Still Here where Joaquin had to don a long beard, wild hair and sunglasses…all the time. For his role in 2000’s Gladiator Joaquin transformed his American accent into a British one.

A true Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t really born with the surname Phoenix. His original name was Joaquin Rafael Bottom. He grew up in an interesting family that loved each other very much, and after his sister Summer was born, back in 1978, an important decision was made. John and Arlyn Bottom, changed their surname to “Phoenix.”

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The surname “Phoenix” was specifically chosen, as there is mythology behind the story of the Phoenix, where it rises from the ashes to transform into something stronger, better, and new. It is especially interesting as the Phoenix is the symbol for Scorpio (Joaquin’s Star Sign) which literally stands for transformation. Joaquin’s life truly is that of a Phoenix, a life of ups and downs, hurt and happiness, and now, one of immense success, fame, and glory!

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