Joaquin Phoenix Biography

Joaquin Phoenix, an American actor and producer, has garnered multiple awards, including an Academy Award and two Golden Globes. Known for taking breaks between films, he always seems to rise from the ashes to greater success.

Early Life

Joaquin Rafael Phoenix, an American actor and producer, was born in 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the third of five children, including River and Rain, and has a half-sister named Jodean. Phoenix was born with a microform cleft lip, which has often been mistaken for a scar on his upper lip.

Joaquin Phoenix, the renowned actor, was born to parents with diverse cultural backgrounds. His father, John Lee Bottom, hails from California and is of primarily English, some German, and a trace of French ancestry. On the other hand, his mother, Arlyn (née Dunetz), was born in New York City to Ashkenazi Jewish parents whose families emigrated from Russia and Hungary.

Arlyn eventually moved to California, where she met John while hitchhiking, and they married in 1969. A few years later, they joined a religious group known as the Children of God and traveled throughout South America. However, after some time, Joaquin’s parents grew disillusioned with the Children of God and decided to leave the group. In 1977, when Joaquin was just three years old, the family returned to the US.

To mark the beginning of a new chapter, Joaquin’s parents changed their last name to Phoenix, after the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes. Joaquin, inspired by his love for nature, began calling himself “Leaf” around this time, as he desired a nature-related name like his siblings. He used this name during his early years as a child actor until he decided to switch back to his given name, Joaquin, at the age of 15.


Joaquin Phoenix’s acting career began on television, where he acted alongside his siblings, River and Summer. He made his debut in a major film role in the movie SpaceCamp (1986), during which he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, the name he had given himself.

After reverting to his birth name, Joaquin Phoenix gained critical acclaim for his supporting roles in the comedy-drama To Die For (1995) and the period film Quills (2000). He gained wider recognition for his portrayal of Commodus in the historical drama Gladiator (2000), which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Phoenix went on to receive Best Actor nominations for his roles as musician Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005), an alcoholic war veteran in The Master (2012), for which he won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor, and as the title character in Joker (2019), which earned him the award for Best Actor.

Additionally, Phoenix has starred in a variety of other films, including horror movies such as Signs (2002) and The Village (2004), the historical drama Hotel Rwanda (2004), the romantic drama Her (2013), the crime satire Inherent Vice (2014), and the psychological thriller You Were Never Really Here (2017), for which he won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor.

Phoenix has demonstrated his versatility by not only acting but also delving into other areas such as directing music videos and producing films and television shows. He was recognized for his musical talents when he won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for his work on the Walk the Line soundtrack. In addition to his creative pursuits, Phoenix is a passionate social activist who supports numerous charitable and humanitarian organizations. He serves on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization that provides daily meals to students in township schools in Soweto, South Africa. Phoenix is also well-known for his advocacy of animal rights and has been a committed vegan since the age of three. He has lent his voice to campaigns for PETA and In Defense of Animals.

Personal life

Phoenix had romantic relationships with Liv Tyler, his co-star in Inventing the Abbotts, from 1995 to 1998, and South African model Topaz Page-Green from 2001 to 2005. In late 2016, he began dating actress Rooney Mara, and they confirmed their engagement in July 2019.

In April 2005, Phoenix sought treatment for alcoholism by checking into a rehabilitation center. He has been residing in the Hollywood Hills since 2006. Regarding his religious beliefs, Phoenix has explained that while he comes from a Jewish background, his parents were not religious, and he does not recall attending church as a child. He has described his mother as believing in Jesus and feeling a connection to him.

Phoenix is well-known for experiencing intense anxiety both when acting and receiving awards. During an interview with Interview magazine in 2012, he revealed that he still experiences nausea and incredible anxiety in the lead-up to these events, with such severe sweating that he needs pads in his armpits. He describes this anxiety as pure and admits that he actually loves it.


  • Full Name: Joaquin Rafael Bottom
  • Other Names: Leaf Phoenix, Kitten, Joaq, Leaf
  • Birth Date: October 28, 1974
  • Birth Place: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Nationality: American
  • Height: 5′ 8″ (1.73 m)
  • Profession: Actor, producer
  • Years active: 1982–present


  • Partner(s): Rooney Mara (2016–present)
  • Parent(s): Arlyn Phoenix (mother), John Lee Bottom (father)
  • Relatives: River Phoenix (brother), Rain Phoenix (sister), Liberty Phoenix (sister), Summer Phoenix (sister)

Known for

  • Commodus in Gladiator (2000), directed by Ridley Scott.
  • Merrill Hess in Signs (2002)
  • Johnny Cash in Walk the Line
  • Lucius Hunt in The Village
  • Arthur Fleck / Joker in Joker

Trade Marks

  • Darkened circles under his eyes
  • Scar on upper lip
  • Deep husky voice
  • Often plays emotionally and mentally troubled characters
  • Usually plays dark, brooding, sinister types
  • Often works with James Gray

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