Joaquin Phoenix Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (6)  | Trivia (58)  | Personal Quotes (75)  | Salary (8)

Overview (4)

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Birth NameJoaquin Rafael Bottom
Nicknames Kitten
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Arlyn (Dunetz) and John Bottom, and is the middle child in a brood of five. His parents, from the continental United States, were then serving as Children of God missionaries. His mother is from a Jewish family from New York, while his father, from California, is of mostly British Isles descent. As a youngster, Joaquin took his cues from older siblings River Phoenix and Rain Phoenix, changing his name to Leaf to match their earthier monikers. When the children were encouraged to develop their creative instincts, he followed their lead into acting. Younger sisters Liberty Phoenix and Summer Phoenix rounded out the talented troupe.

The family moved often, traveling through Central and South America (and adopting the surname "Phoenix" to celebrate their new beginnings) but, by the time Joaquin was age 6, they had more or less settled in the Los Angeles area. Arlyn found work as a secretary at NBC, and John turned his talents to landscaping. They eventually found an agent who was willing to represent all five children, and the younger generation dove into television work. Commercials for meat, milk, and junk food were off-limits (the kids were all raised as strict vegans), but they managed to find plenty of work pushing other, less sinister products. Joaquin's first real acting gig was a guest appearance on River's sitcom, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982).

He worked with his brother again on the afterschool special ABC Afterschool Specials: Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984), then struck out on his own in other made-for-TV productions. He made his big-screen debut as the youngest crew member in the interstellar romp SpaceCamp (1986), then won his first starring turn in the Cold War-era drama Russkies (1987). In the late '80s, the Phoenix clan decided to pull up stakes and relocate again--this time to Florida. River's film career had enough momentum to sustain the move, but Joaquin wasn't sure what lay in store for him in the Sunshine State. As it happened, Universal Pictures had just opened a new studio in the area and he was cast almost immediately as an angst-ridden adolescent in Parenthood (1989). His performance was very well-received, but Joaquin decided to withdraw from acting for a while--he was frustrated with the dearth of interesting roles for actors his age, and he wanted to see more of the world.

His parents were in the process of separating, so he struck out for Mexico with his father. Joaquin returned to the public eye three years later under tragic circumstances. On October 31, 1993, he was at The Viper Room (a Los Angeles nightclub partly-owned by Johnny Depp) when his brother River collapsed from a drug overdose and later died. Joaquin made the call to 911, which was rebroadcast on radio and television the world over. Months later, at the insistence of friends and colleagues, Joaquin began reading through scripts again, but he was reluctant to re-enter the acting life until he found just the right part. He finally signed up to work with Gus Van Sant (who had directed River in My Own Private Idaho (1991) and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)) to star as Nicole Kidman's obsessive devotee in To Die For (1995). The performance made Joaquin (who had dropped Leaf and reverted to his birth name) a critics' darling in his own right.

His follow-up turn in Inventing the Abbotts (1997) scored more critical kudos and, perhaps more importantly, introduced him to his one-time fiancée Liv Tyler. (The pair dated for almost three years.) He returned to the big screen later that year with a supporting role in Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997), then played a locked-up drug scapegoat in Return to Paradise (1998). He and "Paradise" co-star Vince Vaughn re-teamed almost immediately for the small-town murder caper Clay Pigeons (1998), which Joaquin followed with a turn as a porn store clerk in 8MM (1999). The film that confirmed Phoenix as a star was the historical epic Gladiator (2000). The Roman epic cast him as the selfish, paranoid young emperor Commodus opposite Russell Crowe's swarthy hero. Determined to make his character as real as possible, Phoenix gained weight and cultivated a pasty complexion during the shoot. He received international attention and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for that role.

Later that year, he appeared in two indies, playing a dock worker in The Yards (2000) (which he counts among his favorite experiences--and one of the only films of his that he can sit through) and the priest in charge of the Marquis de Sade's asylum in Quills (2000). He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor as the legendary musician Johnny Cash in the biography Walk the Line (2005). He also recorded an album, the film's soundtrack, for which he received the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: IMDb Editors

Family (3)

Children River Mara Phoenix
Parents Phoenix, Arlyn
Bottom, John Lee
Relatives Liberty Phoenix (sibling)
Summer Phoenix (sibling)
River Phoenix (sibling)
Rain Phoenix (sibling)
Indiana Affleck (niece or nephew)
Indiana Affleck (grandchild)

Trade Mark (6)

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

Trivia (58)

Took his mother to the premiere of Gladiator (2000).
Was born Joaquin Rafael, but at the age of four, he decided that he wanted a more earthy name, like his elder siblings River and Rain, so while he was raking leaves with his father he decided on Leaf. In early roles, he was credited as Leaf Phoenix. In the early 1990s, he took back his birth name.
His first name is pronounced "Wha-keen".
Once refused to wear shoes during a photo shoot for Prada because they were made out of leather.
He is a strict vegan. He refuses to wear any costumes made out of animal skin. For the movie Gladiator (2000), Quills (2000) and Walk the Line (2005), among others, he requested that his "leather" costumes be made from synthetic materials.
Was born on same day, year and city as Dayanara Torres.
Resides in New York City in the same apartment building as best friend Casey Affleck and sister Summer Phoenix and director Gus Van Sant.
Took his mother to the Academy Awards (2001).
Joaquin's father, John Bottom, was born in California, to Beulah Ernestine (Ingram) and Robert Merrill Bottom. On his father's side, Joaquin has English, along with Scottish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, German, Irish, Welsh, and French Huguenot, ancestry. Joaquin's mother, Arlyn (Dunetz), was born in New York, to Margaret (Lefkowitz) and Meyer Dunetz, who were both the children of Jewish emigrants to the U.S. (from Russia on Meyer's side and Hungary on Margaret's).
Is a celebrity spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Became an uncle again after sister, Summer Phoenix, gave birth to Indiana Affleck (2004).
Uncle of Liberty Phoenix's children Rio Everest, Indigo Orion, & Scarlette Jasmine, and Summer Phoenix's son Indiana Affleck.
Contrary to popular belief, the scar on his lip is not the result of a repaired cleft lip or palate. It is simply a birth mark. Phoenix has stated in interviews that, while pregnant with him, his mother felt a sharp pain one day, and he was born with a mark on his lip.
Spoke Spanish as a small child but forgot most of this as he got older.
Reportedly never reads his own press or reviews.
Checked himself into rehab to be treated for alcoholism. [April 2005]
Phoenix is half a foot shorter than the real Johnny Cash was, although he plays him in Walk the Line (2005).
Phoenix has done his own vocals on the soundtrack for Walk the Line (2005).
On January 26, 2006, Phoenix was in a car accident on a winding canyon road that overturned his car. 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". Then managed to see that the man was famed, eccentric German auteur Werner Herzog, and Herzog replied, "No, you're not". After helping Phoenix out of the wreckage, Herzog phoned in an ambulance and vanished. The crash reportedly was caused by brake failure.
He and his brother have both appeared in film series that involved Harrison Ford. River Phoenix played the young Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Ford's son in The Mosquito Coast (1986). Joaquin is among those being considered to play John Clarke in the Jack Ryan spin-off Without Remorse (2021), a character that Willem Dafoe played opposite Ford in Clear and Present Danger (1994).
Often brings his mother or any of his three sisters as his date to movie premieres or award shows.
He and River Phoenix are the first brothers to be nominated for acting Academy Awards.
Favorite authors include Tennessee Williams, Rainer Maria Rilke and Hubert Selby Jr..
Rides a Ducati motorcycle and a yellow 1972 Le Mans.
Joaquin has been nominated for three categories in the Music Video Production Association Awards (2006), Directorial Debut, Direction of a New Artist, and Adult Contemporary.
Invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in 2006.
In his diner scene with Sean Penn in U Turn (1997) the song "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash starts playing. Years later, Joaquin played Cash in Walk the Line (2005).
Close friends with Matt Damon, Vince Vaughn, Keanu Reeves and the late Heath Ledger.
Kate Winslet who worked with him on Quills (2000) calls him one of the best actors of his generation.
Announced his retirement from acting in October 2008 and claimed he wanted to pursue a career as a rapper. This announcement was followed by several bizarre appearances and musical performances by Phoenix, which made the shocked public wonder whether it was all just an act or if his behavior was for real. His retirement from acting and his "career" as a rapper turned out to be a hoax, which was part of his movie I'm Still Here (2010).
Donated $2,000 to Dennis Kucinich's (DSA) campaign for president - along with such other famous contributors as Willie Nelson, Danny Glover and Edward Asner (2003).
The longest he has gone without an Oscar nomination is seven years, between Walk the Line (2005) and The Master (2012).
Joaquin and his brother River both played the son of Richard Harris: Joaquin in Gladiator (2000), and River in Silent Tongue (1993).
Phoenix's looks provided the inspiration for the design of the character Bill the Cat in The Freak Next Door (2012), most noticeably the darkened circles under his eyes.
Two days after his 19th birthday, he was in the company of his brother River Phoenix, his sister Rain Phoenix and River's girlfriend Samantha Mathis at The Viper Room in Hollywood, California when River Phoenix suffered an overdose of heroin and cocaine in the early hours of October 31, 1993. Phoenix called 911 from a call box located across the street from the club (co-owned by Johnny Depp who was performing on stage with his band at the time). A distraught Phoenix informed the 911 operator that his brother was "laying on the cement" had "taken a Valium" and was "having seizures", adding "Please, [get here] because he's dying". River Phoenix was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre at 1:51am, he was 23. Phoenix immediately returned to his home in Florida with his sister and mother (who had flown out to collect him). The incident was a high-profile celebrity death, with Phoenix's recorded 911 call released to the media and played repeatedly on news reports covering the story over the following weeks.
Has worked with three directors who have won a Best Director Oscar: Ron Howard, Oliver Stone and Woody Allen.
He was considered for the role of Norman Bates in the remake Psycho (1998), before Vince Vaughn was cast.
Began dating Rooney Mara when shooting Mary Magdalene (2018) together.
He was personally chose by Johnny Cash to play him in Walk The Line (2005) after being impressed by his performance in Gladiator (2000).
He supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
He turned down the role of Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights (1997) which went to Mark Wahlberg. He later went on to work with the film's director Paul Thomas Anderson twice, playing lead roles in The Master (2012) and Inherent Vice (2014).
Son of John Lee Bottom & Heart Phoenix.
Announced his engagement to actress Rooney Mara on July 21, 2019.
His Joker (2019) co-star Robert DeNiro is his favorite actor.
Prior to being cast as Batman's arch enemy The Joker in Joker (2019), he had been Darren Aronofsky's choice to play the role of Batman in a Batman: Year One adaptation that never got made.
He is the fourth actor to receive an Academy Award nomination for his performance in a comic book adaptation, after Paul Newman for Road To Perdition (2002), William Hurt in A History of Violence (2005) and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008). All four actors were nominated for DC Comics adaptations.
As of 2020, he has been in 3 films that were Oscar nominated for Best Picture: Gladiator (2000), Her (2013), and Joker (2019). Of these, Gladiator is a winner in the category.
Claims to have watched Step Brothers (2008) more times than any other film.
He is the second actor to win an Academy Award for playing a comic book character.
He is the the second actor to win an Academy Award for playing the Joker. The first was Heath Ledger.
Second actor born in Puerto Rico to have won the Academy Award for Best Actor. The first was José Ferrer.
He doesn't watch his own films and has said he's only seen two: The Master (2012) and Her (2013).
Expecting his first child with fiancée Rooney Mara (confirmed in May 2020).
Has one child: son River (born September 2020) with fiancée Rooney Mara. The boy is named after his late uncle, actor River Phoenix.
He and actress Rooney Mara have a son together named River, after Phoenix's late brother.
Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger won an Academy Award for their performances as the Joker, becoming the second pair of actors to win Academy Awards for playing the same character - the other pair being Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, who won Best Actor and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor respectively, for their portrayals of Vito Corleone.
Has a scar under the right nostril of his nose,.

Personal Quotes (75)

I had a Catholic girlfriend but she wouldn't, uh, share loving.
After River's death, I felt like I was in an altered state. It took me over a year to get my life back.
I don't have the slightest desire to speak about my dead brother. It gets on my nerves to always be compared with him. My brother was a magnificent person and an outstanding actor.
[on living without older brother River] River and I would talk about being old, being in our 50s together, how it'd probably take us that long to get to work together. There was something gorgeous about us being old together. River will be missed - period. I mean now, more than ever I wish I could talk to him.
My significant other right now is myself, which is what happens when you suffer from multiple personality disorder and self-obsession.
[on relationship with Liv Tyler] What can I say? We hit it off immediately. She's a darling. I've said it over and over again. She's just very real, right there, never like a movie star. She's so genuine, and she doesn't take herself too seriously. It shows in the work she does that her honesty stands out most.
[on relationship with Liv Tyler I'm a great believer in people coming into your life, and you into theirs, for a reason. And I know that when Liv and I met, it was for a reason - I really needed her and she really needed me. And at a certain point, I think we stopped evolving with each other, stopped progressing, and made a very mature decision to move on, even though there was still a great love there. There's no one gossipy thing that I can share. I'm thankful that we had the time we had.
[on relationship with Liv Tyler] I was in awe. Every once in a while you find an actor that, with one word, can sum up eight different emotions. She absolutely nailed that.
I'm not the indie kid, and I'm also not the John Grisham novel hero, but I am all of those things. I do whatever excites me at the time. I'll be in some huge $80 million buddy cop movie, I don't care, and I'll also do some wild independent movie. I refuse to have an agenda.
I don't know why I always get to play these guys who have few redeeming features. But don't knock it. Villains are much more fun.
As I'm reading a script, I start to see the character. I always seem to do something to my hair. A lot of stuff I do for a part, people don't even notice, but I notice, and it makes the character whole for me.
The reason I keep making movies is I hate the last thing I did. I'm trying to rectify my wrongs.
I go into movies thinking, we're performing, but with interviews, we're pretending to be completely real. I just can't get my head around it. And the things we say in this hour could permanently shape our personas. I mean, tell me that's not a little odd! And because I think that's odd, people think I'm odd. And that's strange. Know what I'm saying?
I enjoy humour more than anything, I don't really sit around banging my head and crying all the time.
I changed my name because no one in the States could pronounce 'Joaquin' and I used to get really embarrassed about it as a kid. All the other kids in my family had gorgeous names and I got 'Joaquin', you know what I mean? So I said "This is not good. Even I can't say it.".
It's been a year since last time I tried to give up smoking. I went to a hypnotist; we sat down and started talking. A couple of hours later, I woke up; the hypnotist wasn't in the room, but his wife was. I was like "Oh my goodness, I fell asleep and didn't get to talk to the doctor." And she said "Don't worry, you talked..." I freaked out, left their place, immediately bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked, terrified of what I'd said.
That kind of fame; I couldn't have it in my life. I love that we can sit on the lawn in Central Park and I'm just one of the millions. I don't want to lose that. I'm trying to figure out the perfect strategy. And it's tough. I just want to be right in the middle.
I had a really wonderful upbringing. We were a tight family. It was wonderful to grow up with so many siblings. We were all just a year or two apart, and we were always so supportive of each other. I learned everything from my older brother and sister and taught it to my younger sisters.
I never think that I'm good at anything I do. I can always do it better, I know my weakness. I've never been perfect.
[on maintaining a lower profile than some of his other Hollywood peers] The less someone knows about me, the better, because my intention is to play a variety of characters.
[on falling into acting] I suck at painting and writing; I tried both. For me, it's acting because I grew up with it. When we moved to California, we all did commercials and television shows. Riv was the first to get a television show and me and my sister Liberty guest-starred on another show. It was kind of accidental.
[on his childhood and his live on the land with his family] I remember us being poor, but I never felt embarrassed, or like I was missing anything. I don't remember the hardship of trying to make it, just how my parents always managed to get through.
If you can come in, say your lines brilliantly, and be thinking "What's for lunch?". The whole time you're doing it and it works for the audience, who cares?
Making movies is a constant manipulation. You manipulate the environment. You make it rain when you want it to. You manipulate actors. And as an actor, you try and manipulate your feelings to match what you think you'd be going through in a situation where your character is going through something.
I don't know Shakespeare! I'm not a serious actor. Directors always make references, and I go: "Ah, I'll check it out," and I never, ever do. I'm incredibly lazy.
I'm going to sound a little weird here, but I like to spend a lot of time on my own in the woods. I don't exactly sneak off in the middle of the night, but I like to be in a place where no one can reach me by phone or e-mail.
[on acting being his biggest challenge] Acting. I'm one of those actors who likes to stay in character between takes. I drive other actors crazy but, to me, the most important thing when I'm making a film is that the character takes precedence. I become obsessed with whoever I'm playing. I want to explore the character as completely as I can. The moment an actor becomes satisfied with themselves, their work suffers. I think that we should always challenge ourselves in work.
I live a really boring life. I'm much more clichéd, pathetic and pretentious than you would probably give me credit for. I don't want to do much of anything when I'm not working. It's important that any woman I know shouldn't need to be stimulated outside the house, because I can't provide that. (2007)
It's a bad idea for actors to grow accustomed to seeing themselves on camera, because inevitably you start doing things and become too self-conscious. The only way to prevent it is by not being aware of yourself in that way or at least trying not to be.
First of all, I really think that the greatest fear for actors, is reaching the point in which they go, "God, I'm good at this", because I think the work will really suffer. It's not a conscious effort, it's just I always hope I can do justice to the films and characters. I feel that I've been choosy in my roles as much as I can be, and I only work on films that I really want to make.
[2007, on being a vegetarian] I don't try to impose my views on anyone else, and I can simply say I feel it's right for me. Of course, I've had slips. When I was about 12 I stayed with a friend in San Diego. They got pizza, and I was like, "I'm having some motherfucking pizza. I ate two slices and vomited for two days. I'm strange in that I crave salad and vegetables. I've never really had a sweet tooth, and I don't particularly like foods that are too rich. I'm a parent's dream.
[2007, on if he believes in life after death] Fuck no. There's just nothing. We're gone. If I do have a soul, I don't think it's interpreting life, feelings or experience. My brain is what's making sense of experience and feelings for me. So when that fucker's cut off, how can I possibly understand or feel anything?
[2007] Early on, there wasn't much strategy in choosing roles. I didn't get offered 400 movies; I got offered four, and I did those movies. Let's be honest: If I were six-foot-two, blond and incredibly muscular, they would have been banging down my door. Any actor who doesn't admit that is wrong. But once you've established yourself, you try to break out to the other place...The irony is that I am suddenly being offered all those things usually offered to the six-foot-two blond guy with the big chest. And I'm going, "Are you motherfuckers crazy? I'm finally fucking starting to get into some real work, and now you want me to make movies where I run around with a fucking gun, chasing dudes?" I can't understand actors who, after busting their asses for years, get nominated for an Oscar at the age of 45 and win it, and the next 10 movies they make are fucking crap.
Once I became a total buffoon, it was so liberating. Part of why I was frustrated with acting was because I took it so seriously. I want it to be so good that I get in my own way. It's like love: when you fall in love you're not yourself anymore. You lose control of being natural and showing all the beautiful parts of yourself, and all somebody recognizes is total desperation.
[on Paul Thomas Anderson, director of The Master (2012)] He called me "Bubbles"on the set. Bubbles was Michael Jackson's pet monkey, and I was Paul's pet monkey. I didn't mind I at all. I love having a master.
[on being attracted to acting] On the first job I ever did, there was a fight scene. I was eight, and though I knew it wasn't real and they were actors, I was emotionally affected by it. I felt the adrenaline race through my body. There are kids who get on a BMX bike when they're eight and they go, "Whoa, this is incredible" and grow up to do extreme sports. It's the same for me with acting.
Lynne's Lynne Ramsay always chasing something, and that's who you want to work with. Filmmakers who have a strong feeling and will pursue it to the end. And auteurs are ultimately responsible for the movie. Some movies, the producer, the studio, they're all putting in their fucking bits and, you know - fuck that movie ! [2018]
I'm Jewish... But I don't think I've ever been very religious, no, though I do consider myself a spiritual person. I appreciate a lot of traditions from various faiths. I'm on a path.
I'm inherently a blubbering slob. I'm like a shaved hamster.
We should always shake up the system, even if it's a system that we think is working. I've always loved the rebel element.
Flying is something I just can't bear. I hate the powerlessness.
[to interviewer] You're willing this not to work. My lighter worked fine until you came in. [both giggle]
Casey [Affleck] and I are still great friends. We got tattoos together. He actually has this video of me crying like a girl when I got it done. It was on the inside of my arm, which is incredibly sensitive and painful for a tattoo. And I think the guy was drunk at the time, because I wanted a circle and it doesn't even look like one. I mean, how can you screw up a circle?
I get butterflies every time. I'm vomiting days before we start shooting.
Yes [Mel Gibson was nice], but he is very intense and constantly had a lot of theories going on at the same time. I let my character in the movie [Signs] get a bit inspired by him. He conspired against me. Well I think it was Mel. There was a scene, where I had to sit in a wardrobe and watch TV, that began with being dark in the room. When we had to do the shot for the 14th time they turned the light out in the room and went for lunch. I was sitting there for 20 minutes, just waiting.
My brother River was doing the TV series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. We hung around on the set quite a bit. It seemed like such fun what he was doing. When your older siblings do gymnastics, you want to do gymnastics. When they listen to Squeeze, you listen to Squeeze, so I wanted to act. One day I got to be in a scene with River. We were supposed to cry because someone was fighting. River started crying right away and it made me cry. It felt so real. It was a shocking revelation.
I closed my eyes [ took a hellish roller-coaster ride in a theme park recently]. I clutched the person next to me and just wept like a coward. My friends called me a coward, and they pushed me and taunted me, like it's a funny thing. But I said, 'Guys, that's not cool'.
[I've] never been good at these kind of interview sessions. I've been doing interviews since I was 15 and I still have no idea what to expect or how to answer most of the questions. It always makes me as nervous as the first time I walked into one of these interview sessions. Talking about myself is the most alien thing possible.
I don't have a lot of secrets.
Trumpet is beautiful, even just one note of it. Thing is, I bitched to my teacher about playing scales. I just wanted to learn songs. But this friend of mine said, 'Hey, just get into the sound of it,' and I was like, cured within a day.
I'm always surprised when there's a female person who think's I'm attractive. With Liv, it was a totally natural thing. You see someone that you have great feelings for, and it's mutual - and that's that. I didn't sit there and think, oh wow, this is Liv Tyler, because I've never thought of her in that way. Other people think of her as that girl on the magazine covers, but I don't see that. She's just a girl that I know - it's very simple.
[on his role in Signs] I'm so not a baseball player! Oh, my God, forget it. I've no idea. I've never played an athlete. Not even a failed athlete!
People say, "You've got everything going for you! You can do anything you want!" But I get nervous. I'm confident that I'll work, but I hope it's something that will mean something to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm behind and running out of time as it is. There's still a lot more for me to do.
I stayed [in LA] because I just wanted to drive it [the first car he's ever owned, a '72 Le Mans]. And yeah, it's yellow, but you know how much a paint job costs? I don't care how many times I hear someone yell 'TAXI!'
I'm nuts about him [Sean Penn]. I came onto the set about a month after they'd started shooting [U-Turn] and I was terrified because they shot everything so quickly. Sean was an absolute veteran actor sweetheart - he took me under his wing, calmed me down and said nice things to me. He very much put me at ease. He's a wonderful, intelligent fellow who shared some of his poetry with me, about memory.
[on M. Night Shyamalan] I think all of his films ask, What is our purpose as humans? Night is a believer in fate.
When I work, I try and stick to my work. Sometimes you miss out on things. It takes a lot out of me to work. It's a big commitment. And I want to know that the process is going to sustain me, because I know that nothing else will. The money or whatever the benefits that come along with being an actor, they don't sustain me over the course of three months. I've never done a film that's ever been a job to me.
I didn't realise until much later, when journalists told me that I wasn't normal, that I didn't have a 'normal' upbringing. "I was like, 'Oh, really?' It was news to me.
If you're doing it for outside validation, you're going to be destroyed. The same thing that can make you feel great one moment, saying you're wonderful one moment, and the next you're [not]. I think I'm conscious of that. I've always done things for me. That sounds really selfish. I don't know any other way to do it. That's what drives me.
The fun went out of making movies for me after I did Parenthood (in 1989). I wanted to do serious movies but all I was getting offered were cardboard teen things. [Phoenix was lured out of his forced hiatus by Gus Van Sant to star opposite Nicole Kidman in To Die For.] That's the film that turned my career around.
The Oscars, to me, was a recognition of my work, and in a way it was saying, 'You're not alone.' I think you have multiple extended families, and I'll always feel close to people I work with. I think that's when I work best. It's important to feel safe.
I don't think I am [a typical man]. I think I was raised where I was encouraged to express myself. I think acting came out of that. In that sense, I think I was raised somewhat unconventionally. I think that was encouraged. And I think my girlfriend likes it. I think I'm comfortable talking about things that men typically wouldn't.
[With the inclusion of 12-year-old Rory Culkin and 5-year-old Abigail Breslin in the Signs cast, I felt as if I was] moving into a level of responsibility and professionalism [that I'd avoided before]. It was the first time where it was like, I couldn't afford to forget a line or screw something up.
I don't really know where I am. [pauses] That's going to be a great quote.
I think that I'm probably unconventional. I don't really talk the way other people do. I don't really want to think about it that much. I wouldn't want it to affect how I think about myself. Someone described me as smoking a lot and fidgeting. It made me feel bad, as if I was doing something wrong.
To a certain degree I was always a bit shy. But then after everything that had happened I was shell-shocked in a sense. I don't think I had really been aware of the fame that my brother had acquired, because he never carried himself as such. Our television at home had only one channel, and it was PBS. I never saw premieres, never watched Entertainment Tonight, any of that. So [his celebrity] was another world, and when that world was suddenly brought to our doorstep, I think it just rocked me. You just want to go through you own process of acceptance, or understanding --- if there is any --- without any other influences. Through all that I hadn't seen much that was positive. I mean there certainly was an outpouring of love from a lot of people, but more that anything, there was a lot of ugliness.
When there's nothing to do, I go kooky. But like now, it's awesome. Got some movies coming up that are challenging and I love the pressure of making movies. Hate rehearsing. Can't rehearse. But when you roll that fucking camera, there's something about it, it's magic. I'm gone and I can't be held accountable. I'm a maniac for work. [When I'm working] everything works. I can do the 'Hi, how are you? Great. If you're happy, I'm happy.'
It is true, I always think that I never can do anything right. I can do everything better, I know about my weaknesses. I have never been perfect. [Not even in Gladiator?] No. It is obvious that it is very strenuous to see yourself on a gigantic screen. After the shootings I went directly home to my family and almost did not leave the bed for 3 weeks, I was exhausted.
[on the tattoo on the inside of his arm] It's just a circle. I got it to represent nothing because I hate the idea of people having a symbol of wisdom or love in Gaelic on their bodies.
Oscar night [2001] was surreal and nerve wracking. There is so much energy in that theatre. You can't even begin to describe it. All those people and all the excitement. It's one of the most unique experiences of my life. Most of the time I was trying to sneak out for a cigarette but kept getting attacked by security guards.
When you're not on-set, you don't even want to tie your shoes.
[Did you change your name to Leaf to fit in?] No. I changed it because no-one in the States could pronounce 'Joaquin' and I used to get really embarrassed about it as a kid. All the other kids in my family had gorgeous names and I got 'Joaquin', you know what I mean? So I said 'This is not good. Even I can't say it'.
I've accomplished what I've set out to accomplish. I do some crazy things sometimes, but I've been pretty good.
[on self confidence and performance anxiety issues] I threw up because of nervousness.
[on fashion] Uh, to be honest, I, you know, have this, uh, one pair of jeans and, uh, a bunch of white, V-neck T-shirts. Which I pretty much wear every single day. Particularly in, uh, the summertime. I have my boxers, my special boxers you already know about. I wear... tennis shoes. Is this good for you?

Salary (8)

Quills (2000) $375,000
Buffalo Soldiers (2001) $700,000
Signs (2002) $1,000,000
The Village (2004) $5,000,000
Ladder 49 (2004) $850,000
Walk the Line (2005) $3,500,000
Joker (2019) $4,500,000
Joker: Folie à Deux (2024) $20,000,000

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