Phoenix at the Toronto Film Festival in 2005
|Born||Joaquín Rafael Bottom
October 28, 1974
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
|Other names||Leaf Phoenix|
|Occupation||Actor, producer, activist|
Joaquin Phoenix (/ /; born Joaquín Rafael Bottom; October 28, 1974), known formerly as Leaf Phoenix, is an American actor, music video director, producer, musician and social activist. He has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, winning one, and three Academy Awards.
Phoenix started his career by appearing in episodes on television shows with his brother River Phoenix and sister Summer Phoenix. He later appeared in such films as SpaceCamp (1986), Russkies (1987) and Ron Howard's Parenthood (1989). During his period as a child actor he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, his self-given name. He later went back to his birth name "Joaquin" and received positive reviews for his portrayals in a wide range of films, most notably in To Die For (1995) and Quills (2000). He came to wide attention for his portrayal of Commodus in the 2000 historical epic film Gladiator, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He has subsequently earned Best Actor nominations for portraying musician Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005) and for his highly acclaimed role in The Master (2012). Some of his other notable films are Signs (2002), Hotel Rwanda (2004), The Village (2004), Two Lovers (2008), The Immigrant (2013), Her (2013) and Inherent Vice (2014).
Aside from his acting career, he has also ventured into directing music videos, as well as producing films and television shows. He has recorded an album, the soundtrack to Walk The Line, for which he won a Grammy Award. Phoenix is a social activist, lending his support to a number of charities and humanitarian organizations. Phoenix is also known for his animal rights activism. He has been a vegan since the age of three and actively campaigns for PETA and In Defense of Animals.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Filmography
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Phoenix was born Joaquín Rafael Bottom in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico to parents from the U.S. mainland. He is the third of five children, including River (1970–1993), Rain (1972–), Liberty (1976–), and Summer (1978–). He also has a half-sister named Jodean (1964–) from a previous relationship of his father's.
Phoenix's father, John Lee Bottom, originally from Fontana, California, was a lapsed Catholic of English, as well as German and French, ancestry. Phoenix's mother, Arlyn (née Dunetz), was born in The Bronx, New York, to Jewish parents whose families emigrated from Russia and Hungary. Arlyn left her family in 1968 and moved to California, later meeting Phoenix's father while hitchhiking. They married in 1969, then later joined the religious group, the Children of God, and began traveling throughout South America. His parents eventually became disenchanted with the Children of God; they made the decision to leave the group and returned to the U.S. in 1978. They changed their last name to "Phoenix" to symbolize a new beginning. This also was around the time Joaquin began calling himself Leaf, desiring to have a nature-related name like his siblings, and inspired by spending time outdoors raking leaves with his father. (In a Jay Leno interview, Joaquin said he had originally called himself Antleaf as a child, it is unclear if he was being serious.) Leaf became the name he used as a child actor, until at age 15 he changed it back to Joaquin.
In order to provide food and financial support for the family, the children performed on the streets and at various talent contests, singing and playing instruments. In Los Angeles, his mother started working as a secretary for NBC, and his father worked as a landscaper. 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. Joaquin went on to establish himself as a child actor before deciding to withdraw from acting for a while and travel to Mexico and South America with his father.
In October 1993, his brother River suffered a fatal drug overdose. Joaquin's call to 911 seeking help for his brother was repeatedly played on radio and television. In response, he retreated from the public eye for about a year.
1982–1989: Breaking into film
Phoenix's first acting jobs were guest appearances on two television shows with his brother River in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982), and Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984) as well as an episode, "We're Off to Kill the Wizard" in Murder, She Wrote with his sister Summer. In 1985, he appeared with JoBeth Williams in the CBS television movie Kids Don't Tell. He made his film debut in SpaceCamp (1986) as Max and starred in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "A Very Happy Ending" the same year, Phoenix first starring role was in Russkies (1987) and co-starred in Ron Howard's Parenthood (1989), in which he was credited as Leaf Phoenix. The film was well received by critics and grossed $126 million worldwide. For his performance in the film, Phoenix was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actor in a Feature Film. Joaquin went on to establish himself as a child actor before deciding to withdraw from acting for a while and travel to Mexico and South America with his father. In October 1993, his brother River suffered a fatal drug overdose. Joaquin's call to 911 seeking help for his brother was repeatedly played on radio and television. In response, he retreated from the public eye for about a year.
During the comeback portion of his career, Phoenix went back to his given name "Joaquin," and was often cast in supporting roles as conflicted, insecure characters with a dark side. He co-starred in Gus Van Sant's To Die For (1995) with Nicole Kidman. The film was screened out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and was well received, along with Phoenix's performance. In 1997, he played a small-town troublemaker in Oliver Stone's U Turn with Sean Penn and Claire Danes and poor man in love with a rich girl in Inventing the Abbotts opposite Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup. The films were received with mostly mixed and negative reviews respectively, however Phoenix's performances were praised. In 1998, he co-starred in Clay Pigeons with Vince Vaughn.The film received mixed to positive reviews, holding a 63% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In 1999 he co-starred in 8mm with Nicolas Cage and James Gandolfini. The film made a total of $96 million , more than double its $40 million production budget. Roger Ebert was one of the film's admirers and gave the film three stars out of four, stating on his website "I know some audience members will be appalled by this film, as many were by "Seven".
2000–2005: Critical acclaim and commercial success
In 2000, Phoenix co-starred in three films. He made his first collaboration with director James Gray in The Yards alongside Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron. Although it failed to perform at the box office, The Yards was received with positive reviews. He also played a conflicted priest in Quills with Geoffrey Rush, Michael Caine and Kate Winslet. Quills premiered in the United States at the Telluride Film Festival on 2 September 2000. The film earned a total of $17 million. Reviews were generally positive, with a 75% "fresh" rating at the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and an average score of 70/100 at Metacritic. Quills received 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. In 2000, Phoenix came to wide attention for his portrayal of Commodus in the historical epic film Gladiator directed by Ridley Scott. The film also stars Russell Crowe, Connie Nielsen and Djimon Hounsou. The film became one of the highest earning films of 2000 and made a worldwide box office gross of $457 million. Gladiator received mostly positive reviews. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Phoenix was nominated for his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Gladiator. For his combined roles in the year of 2000, Phoenix won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor and the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The following year, Phoenix starred in the satire film Buffalo Soldiers as a U.S. Army soldier, alongside Ed Harris and Anna Paquin.The world premiere was held at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival in early September. However, being a satire of the US military, the film's wider theatrical run was delayed by approximately two years because of the September 11 attacks until it was released on July 25, 2003. The film was received with mostly positive reviews. For his performance, Phoenix was nominated for the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor.
Phoenix's next project was playing a former minor league baseball star in M. Night Shyamalan's science fiction thriller Signs (2002), opposite Mel Gibson. The film received positive reviews  and grossed $408 million.
In 2003, Phoenix played the irresolute husband of a superstar-skater in It's All About Love opposite Claire Danes and Sean Penn. Also in 2003, Phoenix voiced the leading role of Kenai in the Disney animated film, Brother Bear. The film grossed $250 million worldwide and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
For his first film of 2004, Phoenix paired with Shyamalan again, playing a love struck farmer in The Village, opposite Bryce Dallas Howard, Adrien Brody and Sigourney Weaver. The film received mixed reviews but was a financial success, grossing $256 million worldwide on its $60 million budget. For his second film that year, Phoenix starred in the drama film Ladder 49 as a Baltimore firefighter, opposite John Travolta. The film earned $102 million at the box office despite receiving generally mixed reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising the performances in the film. Phoenix's final film of 2004 was Terry George's Hotel Rwanda, playing photographer Jack Daglish, opposite Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo and Nick Nolte. The film was a moderate financial success but was a critical success, receiving almost exclusively positive reviews from critics. 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.
In 2005, Phoenix was cast with Reese Witherspoon in the James Mangold directed film Walk the Line, a Johnny Cash biopic, after Cash himself approved of him. All of Cash's vocal tracks in the film and on the accompanying soundtrack are played and sung by Phoenix. The film was released on November 18, 2005, eventually grossing $186 million. 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". For his performance as 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.
2006–2010: Producing and self-imposed break
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. Also starring Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes, the film premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed a total of $54.5 million worldwide. He won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Leading Man for the performance. In his second film of 2007, Phoenix also reunited with director Terry George for the film Reservation Road alongside Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Connelly. 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 and received mixed reviews from critics.
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, alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw. Two Lovers premiered in competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival in May to largely positive reviews from critics and grossed $16 million.
Phoenix's mockumentary film I'm Still Here (2010) premiered at the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 6, 2010. The film was directed by Phoenix's 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. Filming officially began on January 16, 2009 at a Las Vegas nightclub. 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. The film received mixed reviews and failed at the box office. After the releasing of the film, Phoenix took a self-imposed break from acting.
2012–present: Comeback and critical acclaim
In 2011, it was announced that Phoenix would return to acting in Paul Thomas Anderson's drama film The Master (2012) where he co-starred with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. Phoenix played Freddie Quell, a sex-obsessed alcoholic World War II veteran from Lynn, Massachusetts struggling to adjust to a post-war society. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival where Phoenix won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor, shared with Hoffman. The art house film only grossed $28 million but was received with universal critical acclaim, with the acting performances receiving high praise, especially Phoenix's. His performance was publicly lauded by fellow actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Jessica Chastain and Robert Duvall.  Phoenix received his third Academy Award nomination, as Best Actor as well as nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and BAFTA Award for Best Actor. 
In 2013, Phoenix starred in romantic comedy-drama film Her directed by Spike Jonze. In it, Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a man who develops a relationship with Samantha, an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice. The film also stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde and Scarlett Johansson as Samantha. It had its premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 12, 2013. Her had a worldwide gross of $47 million and received widespread critical acclaim, along with Phoenix's performance. Phoenix received his fourth nomination for the Golden Globe Award and the film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Also in 2013, Phoenix collaborated with director James Gray for the fourth time in the drama film The Immigrant, opposite Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner. He starred as Bruno Weiss, a pimp who prostitutes Polish immigrant Ewa(Cotillard) and ends up falling for her. It was screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival as well as at the 2013 New York Film Festival. The film was released in the United States on May 16, 2014. The Immigrant failed to perform at the box office but received positive reviews from critics.
In 2014, Phoenix reunited with director Paul Thomas Anderson for the crime comedy-drama film Inherent Vice, the first ever 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. The film also stars Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short and Benicio Del Toro. Inherent Vice premiered as the centerpiece at the New York Film Festival on October 4, 2014 and went nationwide on January 9, 2015. 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, however it only grossed $11.1 million at the box office. Phoenix was nominated for his fifth Golden Globe Award for his performance.
In 2015, Phoenix will co-star in Woody Allen's mystery comedy-drama Irrational Man with Emma Stone, Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley. It will be released on July 24, 2015. On 25 March 2015, it was reported that Phoenix is in talks to join Tom Ford's upcoming film Nocturnal Animals, with Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
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." 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.".
In early April 2005, Phoenix checked into rehab to be treated for alcoholism. On January 26, 2006, while driving down a winding canyon road in Hollywood, Phoenix ran off the road and rolled his car. The crash was reportedly caused by brake failure. Shaken and confused, Phoenix heard a tapping on his window and a voice say, "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 gas 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 gratitude, but Herzog downplayed his heroism and returned to his home nearby.
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 largely unresponsive towards David Letterman's questions about the film and his career plans. Phoenix appeared on Late Show again on September 22, 2010 and revealed that his "retirement" and eccentric behaviour were for a mockumentary, I'm Still Here (2010), that he and Casey Affleck were filming.
In October 2012, Phoenix proclaimed the Academy Awards to be "bullshit". He later gave an interview amending his earlier comments and acknowledging that the Oscars provide an important platform for many deserving filmmakers.
Phoenix has long been a social activist, lending his support to a number of charities and humanitarian organizations, notably Amnesty International, The Art of Elysium, HEART, and the Peace Alliance (which campaigns for a United States Department of Peace). 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 of South Africa.
Animal rights activism
Phoenix is a vegan; he is a member of In Defense of Animals and PETA and has actively campaigned for both. In 2013 he starred in a PETA short film that promoted veganism, showing Phoenix "drowning" as he narrates, "In water, humans drown just as fish suffocate on land. Put yourself in their place. Try to relate." ABC refused to air the film during the Academy Awards broadcast, citing the ad's controversial nature. For Nation Earth he narrated Earthlings, a video about the investigation of animal abuse in factory farms, pet mills, industry and research. In 2005 he was awarded the Humanitarian Award at the San Diego Film Festival for his work and contribution to Earthlings.
|1982||Seven Brides for Seven Brothers||Travis||Episode: "Christmas Song"|
|1983||Mr. Smith||Episode: "Mr. Smith Goes Public"|
|1984||Murder, She Wrote||Billy Donovan||Episode: "We're Off to Kill the Wizard"|
|1984||ABC Afterschool Special||Robby Ellsworth||Episode: "Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia"
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Family Film Made for Television (shared with River Phoenix)
|1984||The Fall Guy||Kid||Episode: "Terror U"|
|1984||Hill Street Blues||Daniel Flowers||Episode: The Rise and Fall of Paul the Wall|
|1986||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Pagey Fisher||Episode: "A Very Happy Ending"|
|1989||Still the Beaver||Kyle Cleaver||Episode: "Still the New Leave It to Beaver"|
|1989||Superboy||Billy Hercules||Episode: "Little Hercules"|
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