In 2006 Joaquin Phoenix won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the late
Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a
Lead Role for that same role.
Joaquin Phoenix often plays supporting roles as conflicted, insecure characters with a dark side. Phoenix is a devout vegan. He has stated on numerous occasions that he has never watched any of his performances on screen.
Joaquin Phoenix approaches his roles with a seriousness that sometimes surprises his co-stars. Upon being chosen by Johnny Cash to portray the musician in "Walk the Line", Joaquin responded by buying a guitar and learning how to play. He spent several years practicing in-character as Johnny Cash before principal photography, including voice and guitar lessons, and mimicking Cash's personae.
Reese Witherspoon, who portrayed June Carter Cash in the film, stated during an interview that when they first performed in-character before a live audience, she was so impressed with his impersonation that she knew she "had to step it up a notch".
Indeed all of the vocal tracks in the movie and on the accompanying soundtrack are played and sung by Phoenix and Witherspoon, a testament to the dedication and talent of both actors.
The scar on Joaquin's lip is popularly believed to be the result of a repaired cleft lip. However, Joaquin Phoenix has stated in interviews that his mother, while pregnant with him, felt a sharp pain one day and he was born with a scar on his lip. The birth scar is a microform, basically it is an 'almost cleft', the tissues just reached far enough to join up. If the bone and muscle tissues joined correctly no surgery or cleft repair is required, as is the case with Joaquin.
Joaquin Phoenix's father, John Lee Bottom, is of Irish and Spanish descent; his mother, Arlyn Sharon Dunetz, was born in the Bronx.
Shortly after they met, the two joined the Children of God cult and began traveling throughout South America as missionaries. Joaquin was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and lived there until he was six years old; he speaks Spanish fluently.
Joaquin is the third of five children, the others are "River" (1970 - 1993), "Rain" (or "Rainbow Joan of Arc"; 1973), "Liberty Butterfly" (or "Libertad Mariposa"; 1976), and "Summer" (or "Summer Joy"; 1978).
After leaving the Children of God and returning to the USA (upon which they
adopted the surname "Phoenix"), the parents encouraged their children to develop
their creative instincts. Since his siblings had nature-related names, Joaquin
changed his name to "Leaf".
The family moved to Los Angeles, where his mother started working as a secretary for NBC, and his father became a landscaper. His parents hired an agent, who eventually got the five children acting work.
Joaquin Phoenix's first acting jobs were guest appearances on two television shows with his brother River: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982) and Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984).
Joaquin Phoenix made his big-screen debut in Space Camp (1986), playing the role of Max, and his first starring role was in Russkies (1987). He went on to establish himself as a child actor in Parenthood (1989), before deciding to withdraw from acting for a while and move to Mexico with his father.
Joaquin Phoenix came back into public view under tragic circumstances — he was the person who dialed 9-1-1 when his brother River Phoenix suffered a fatal drug overdose outside Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room.
Joaquin was reluctant to re-enter the world of acting, but he did so at the insistence of his friends. He changed his name from "Leaf" back to "Joaquin."
Joaquin Phoenix portrayed a troubled teen in Gus Van Sant's To Die For, and has earned positive reviews for adult roles as Commodus in Gladiator (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), a priest in Quills, the washed-up baseball player Merrill Hess in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, and stoic Lucius Hunt in Shyamalan's The Village.
In 2006, Joaquin Phoenix won the "Best Actor - Musical or Comedy" Golden Globe award for his role as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. He was nominated for an Oscar for the performance.
On January 26, 2006, a few days after his Golden Globe win for Walk The Line, he and another person were involved in an auto accident in the Hollywood Hills suburb in Los Angeles when his SUV flipped over and skidded onto its side.
Fortunately, he suffered no serious injuries, and was pulled from his overturned car, in a bizarre detail, by German art film director Werner Herzog, whose home was located nearby. Phoenix appeared at the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards a few days later.
Joaquin Phoenix is rumored to be cast as John Kelly (aka John Clark) in the film verson of Tom Clancy's best selling novel, Without Remorse.
He has recently admitted himself into rehab to deal with his increasing alcohol problem. He is also a chain smoker.
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