Known professionally as Joaquin Phoenix, actor Joaquin Rafael Bottom was born October 28th, 1974, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the time of his birth, his parents had been traveling around South America and the Caribbean as missionaries. Joaquin is the third of six kids; his siblings are also actors River and Liberty Phoenix, with whom he began his acting career. After returning to the U.S., Joaquin’s family moved to Los Angeles so that Joaquin and his siblings could appear in TV commercials and shows to support the family, as his father had to stop working due to a spinal injury.
Joaquin’s television debut happened in 1982, when he appeared alongside his brother in an episode of the series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Throughout the 1980s, acting uner the name “Leaf Phoenix,” he appeared in several television shows, such as The Fall Guy, ABC Afterschool Special, Hill Street Blues, Murder, She Wrote, The New Leave It to Beaver and Superboy. He made his big screen debut in 1985’s Kids Don’t Tell, and had supporting roles in SpaceCamp (1986) and Parenthood (1989.) After consolidating himself as a child actor during this time, he grew tired and took a break from acting. It was his brother River who convinced him to return to acting and to change his name back to his real one.
Phoenix’s return to the entertainment business was in Gus Van Sant’s black comedy To Die For (1995,) for which he was critically acclaimed. After a series of less successful films, his next big office hit was 8mm (1999,) despite poor reviews. In 2000, Joaquin co-starred in the critical and commercial successful film, Gladiator, which earned him nominations to an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award. He also starred in two other movies that year, Quills and The Yards, in which his performance was highly praised despite poor box office returns. Phoenix went on to find success with the thriller films Signs (2002) and The Village (2004,) Disney’s animated movie Brother Bear (2003,) and drama Hotel Rwanda (2004.) In 2005, he played musician Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line, which earned him a Golden Globe, a Grammy, and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Subsequent projects throughout this period included Earthlings (2005,) We Own the Night (2007,) Two Lovers (2008,) I’m Still Here (2010,) and The Master (2012.) For his performance on The Master, he received his third Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. In 2013, Joaquin starred in romantic science-fiction drama Her. Although the film did moderately well at the box office, Phoenix was praised by the press and received his fourth Golden Globe nomination. Joaquin continued to enjoy critical success with the films Inherent Vice (2014,) Unity (2015,) Irrational Man (2015,) and You Were Never Really Here (2017.)
In 2019, Phoenix starred as the titular character in Joker, an origin story of a popular DC Comics’ villain. The film turned into a box office hit, and Joaquin’s acting received extremely positive reviews, once more bringing him nominations to Academy, BAFTA, Golden Globe, a SAG and Critic’s Choice Awards for Best Actor, finally winning the Academy Award in 2020. As of 2022, a sequel is also in the works, with Phoenix attached to reprise his role as the Joker.