Updated: 07/25/2018 12:17 PM | First Published: 07/25/2018 09:11 AM

10 Surprising Facts About The Master star Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix wears every character in his movies like a second skin. He has already given jaw-dropping performances in movies like Gladiator, To Die For, Walk The Line and The Master. Born in the family of performers, Joaquin has dedicated a major part of his life to the art which has resulted in three Academy Award nominations and a Golden Globe win

However, the most daunting challenge of his career is still ahead of him. He is set to appear as Batman’s biggest arch-nemesis, the Joker, in a standalone origin movie chronicling the backstory of the super-villain. With Jared Leto’s commendable job in Suicide Squad and Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance in The Dark Knight, Joaquin has pretty big shoes to fill. 

More than three decades of acting has made Joaquin a household name and a screen legend, but there are still some of the facts you probably didn't know about him. Today, eCelebrityFacts brings you ten unknown facts about the actor.

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Missionaries Parents

Joaquin Phoenix's parents John Lee and Arlyn Phoenix and his siblings

After getting married in the late 60s, Joaquin’s parents, John Lee and Arlyn Phoenix, joined a controversial religious group, the Children of God. They started traveling throughout Central and South America and even brought their children, Joaquin, River, Rain, Liberty, and Summer, with them. They became disillusioned with the group and moved back to the US in 1978.

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Last Name, Phoenix is a symbolic one

Young Joaquin  Phoenix's family picture

Joaquin’s original family name was Bottom, but after they left the controversial group, the family changed their last name to Phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes. The name symbolized a new beginning for the family.

Went by the Name Leaf for Years

Young Joaquin Phoenix with his older brother, River Phoenix eating from a same dish

Don’t you hate it when people can’t pronounce your name? I don’t. My name is Steve. But, Joaquin did. As all his siblings’ names were related to nature, he gave himself the name, Leaf. He went by his new name for several years as a child actor. However, after filming Walking the Dog in 1991, he changed his name back to Joaquin. 

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Death of older brother, River

Young Phoenix siblings, Rain (left), River (middle) and Joaquin (right)

His older brother, River, suffered a fatal drug overdose at Johnny Depp’s LA nightclub, The Viper Room, in the early mornings of October 31, 1993. Along with River were Joaquin and his sister, Rainn. River was pronounced dead after a while. Joaquin’s 911 call was later broadcast on radio and television repeatedly. In the aftermath of the incident, he left from the public’s prying eye for about a year.

Walk the Line as Johnny R. Cash

Joaquin Phoenix putting a cigarette on his mouth and holding a guitar

The 2005 movie, Walk The Line, is one of Joaquin’s finest performances to date. You can see the uncanny resemblance between him and Johnny Cash, the singer he is portraying in the movie. That’s because he went totally method for the role

He told his friends and cast of the movie to call him J.R. as Cash’s birth name is John R. Cash. He later admitted,

It’s simply that I don’t know what I’m doing, and I use all the help I can get. It’s an act of desperation.

He won a Golden Globe and a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor.

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Grammy Winner

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny R. Cash, holding a guitar and standing in front of a stand-mic

In addition to his amazing acting, he also sang in Walk The Line. It was his first professional work as a singer and boy, did he do a spectacular job. Movie goers were stunned to find out that Johnny Cash wasn’t the voice behind the songs in the movie. Phoenix won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for his vocal performance in the movie. Joaquin Phoenix, a talented man, through and through.

Mockumentary: I'm Still Here

Remember the time in 2008 when Joaquin quit acting and started a hiphop career? Turns out it was all for a mockumentary about his life called I’m Still Here. It’s safe to say that he wasted four years of his life during that stupid stunt with his then-brother-in-law, Casey Affleck. While it was a foolish idea, he still went method for it.

Joaquin Phoenix sitting on a couch on the set of Late Show with David Letterman with the host, David

The mockumentary made next to no money and the shenanigans he pulled off during the time were utterly ridiculous. He appeared with dreadlocked hair and a messy beard on the Late Show with David Letterman and was showing no response at all. Now if we look at the clip with a different perspective, we can see him almost crack up in a few instances

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No Memorabilia for Fans

 Joaquin Phoenix wearing a white shirt and a black coat and bow tie

You will rarely find a picture of Phoenix with his fans because he doesn’t humor people with a snapshot or two. If you see Joaquin strolling in your neighborhood, do not try to take a picture with him. He will probably have a casual chat with you but that’s it. He once told Playboy

A woman came up the other day in a store and said, “I’m really sorry, but can we take a picture?” I said, “You know what? I don’t do that, but thanks so much for coming up.” We chatted a bit. It was fun.

Vegan For Life

Young Joaquin Phoenix  wearing maroon colored sweater

Joaquin will do anything to make sure that he gets into a character. But, will he wear leather for a role? He has been living as a Vegan from the tender age of 3 after he witnessed a fishing incident. As a lot of publications claim that Joaquin will not wear leather for movie costumes. That is more or less correct. However, he wore leather vintage boots for Walk the Line. For that, he explained,

I don’t wear leather in my life, but with movies, there are some things I struggle with, like if there are budget constraints or a particular vintage thing they need,

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Oscar Nominations

Joaquin Phoenix holding a Golden Globe Award in his hands

Phoenix has three Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe win and a Grammy. He has additional 30 different Awards and over 100 nominations. But does he care? Absolutely not. Accolades are not that important to him. He said,

I think it's total, utter bullshit, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other... It's the stupidest thing in the whole world. It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when ‘Walk the Line’ was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again.

Are you excited for Joaquin’s new avatar as Joker? Will he able to meet expectations set Heath Ledger’s exceptional performance? Let us know.


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Name Joaquin Phoenix
Profession Actor
Birthday October 28, 1974
Age 46 Years Old
Net Worth (USD) $ 30,000,000 - Thirty Million US Dollars