Joaquin Phoenix

BATD ON Mar 23, 2009 AT 4:41 pm

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix is a man of many faces. He’s a seriously intense actor, passionate musician, and occasional director. Born in Puerto Rico as the third child in a pack of five, Phoenix was raised in Mexico and South America by free wheeling parents. His former Catholic father and mother joined a cult while in the Indies, but left in 1978, changing their surname to Phoenix to symbolize new beginning in the United States.  With Phoenix’s nomadic lifestyle comes the ability to easily bounce from one career to another, as he does with seamless sophistication. After a year in the United States, the Phoenix children performed on the streets and intermittently at talent shows, singing and playing instruments. Joaquin and his siblings were eventually discovered by one of Hollywood’s leading child agents, Iris Burton, who assigned them to commercials and TV appearances. Commercials for meat, milk, or junk food were off-limits, though—the kids are strict vegans. After establishing himself as a child actor, Phoenix embarked on a return journey to South America with his father. (This boy just never quits!) A tragic series of events brought Phoenix back to the States; his brother, River Phoenix, suffered a fatal drug overdose, dying outside Johnny Depp’s nightclub The Viper Room. The sudden media attention proved overwhelming for Phoenix, and once again he avoided the limelight.

As Johnny Cash in Walk the Line

As Johnny Cash in Walk the Line

Finally, Joaquin landed the handful of acting gigs he’s famous for. Short appearances in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Backwards preceded his big-screen debut in Space Camp (1986) as Max. He earned his first starring role in Russkies (1987). Phoenix is best known for portraying the dark side of humanity through conflicted and insecure characters. For instance, a troubled teen in To Die For, a harsh Roman emperor in Gladiator (which earned him an Academy Award nomination), and a confused priest in Quills. Phoenix has the unmatched abiilty to shock an audience with first impressions: after landing the role of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, even co-star Reese Witherspoon was floored with his live performance of the soundtrack. Cash and Carter’s vocal tracks from the film are all sung by Phoenix and Witherspoon. In 2005, Phoenix was nominated for Best Actor Oscar, and won a Golden Globe in 2006. This coming from a man who says, ‘I never think I’m good at anything I do. I can always do it better’.

Joaquin now he is focusing on 'his music'

Joaquin now he is focusing on 'his music'

Phoenix has even ventured behind the camera, directing music videos and producing them. He unexpectedly retired from acting in October 2008 at a benefit to “focus on his music career.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s not being filmed. This January marks the date that friend Casey Affleck began filming Joaquin’s music career. Affleck is directing a documentary on his brother-in-law, ironically dubbed ‘Resurrecting Joaquin from Ashes’.

“Ben’s little bro” is also known for his work with the films Gone Baby Gone and Oceans Eleven. Casey’s subject matter is quite unprecedented, but that seems to be just Joaquin’s style. This Renaissance man loves to keep everyone guessing…you can bet we are.

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