Joaquin Phoenix Biography

(Best Known for His Role in the Films: 'Joker', 'Gladiator', 'The Master' and 'Walk the Line)

Birthday: October 28, 1974 (Scorpio)

Born In: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Little did young Joaquin Phoenix or Leaf, as he preferred to call himself, during the early days know that his stint of performing on the streets for a few pennies would change the course of his life for good. Born up in a financially unstable household, Phoenix took to singing and dancing as an added source of income for the family. However, he was soon spotted by a Hollywood children’s agent who brought this young star of his own right better and wider exposure. And rest as they say is history. Film after film, young Phoenix polished his acting skills to become a refined actor of his age. While he starred in a number of films since his debut in 1986, his big break came with the historical epic, ‘Gladiator’ which won him immense fame and acclaim as an actor. He soon became the top-rated actor in the industry with blockbuster flicks, like, ‘Ladder 49’, ‘Walk the Line’, ‘The Master’ and the recently released ‘Her’. Acting aside, he is a dedicated activist and a humanitarian and works for various causes and organizations. Read further to get updated information regarding his life and works.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Joaquin Rafael Phoenix

Age: 49 Years, 49 Year Old Males


father: John Lee Bottom

mother: Arlyn

siblings: Liberty Phoenix, Rain Phoenix, River Phoenix, Summer Phoenix

Partner: Rooney Mara (2016–)

Born Country: Puerto Rico

Quotes By Joaquin Phoenix Jewish Actors

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males

Ancestry: Russian American, Hungarian American, German American, British American, French American

City: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Childhood & Early Life

Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom to John Lee Bottom and Arlyn Bottom in Rio Piedras. His parents were ardent followers of the Children of God missionary. He had four siblings, River, Rain, Liberty, and Summer.

Young Bottom spent much of his early life traveling between Central and South America along with his family. However, his parents soon became disillusioned with the religious view of the group, finally distancing themselves from it.

They returned to the United States in 1978 and took up Phoenix as their new surname which explains Joaquin being known as Joaquin Phoenix. Following the footsteps of his elder siblings, he took to performing arts on the streets to financially aid the family.

Soon the children were spotted by a leading Hollywood children’s agent who helped them appear in television shows and commercials.

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His first stint at acting was in 1982 as a guest appearance in River’s breakthrough television series, ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’. During this time, he used the name, ‘Leaf Phoenix’.

Following this, he was seen in a couple of television series such as ‘Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia’, ‘The Fall Guy’, ‘Hill Street Blues’, ‘Murder, She Wrote’, and so on.

His big break came in 1986 with the kid’s adventure flick, ‘SpaceCamp’ wherein he was cast in a supporting role as a wannabe astronaut, Max.

Later, he was cast in Alfred Hitchcock's episode of ‘A Very Happy Ending’ and in the primetime drama, ‘Morning/Evening Star’. In 1987, he found a role in the film, ‘Russkies’.

His breakthrough performance came in 1989 with the Ron Howard directorial venture, ‘Parenthood’. The highlight of the film was his impressive performance as the rebellious son of Dianne West.

Following the success of the film, instead of banking on the opportunity, he decided to put his career on hold and travel through Latin America. While he was on a self-declared hiatus, his brother River achieved stardom becoming one of the leading actors of his time.

Tragedy struck him in 1993 when his brother River died. The sudden death brought him back to the limelight and into the public eye.

He resumed acting professionally, switching to using his birth name. His first film after making a comeback was Gus van Sant’s ‘To Die For’ in 1995. In the film, he played the character of a troubled teen who was seduced by a success-hungry news reporter.

He followed this up with Oliver Stone’s ‘Inventing the Abbotts’, a romantic drama co-starring Liv Tyler. The actor paired up with the director yet again to come up with the film, ‘U-Turn’. However, the movie was a major failure at the box office.

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The year 1998 brought mixed results for his career graph. While the movie ‘Return to Paradise’ was majorly successful and earned him rave reviews for impressive acting skills and powerful portrayal of an American imprisoned man, the movie ‘Clay Pigeons’ was a dud and failed to make an impact at the box office

A turn of events occurred in 2000 for this talented actor who jumped up the ladder of success with the portrayal of the character of the jealous emperor Commodus in the Roman epic, ‘Gladiator’. The film was a blockbuster success and earned him bountiful accolades including nominations at the Oscars.

He cemented his position as a top-rated actor with the film, ‘The Yards’ released the same year. In the film, he played the character of a slick performer. The movie was followed by yet another historical epic drama, ‘Quills’ released the same year.

‘Signs’, released in 2002, was his first film under the direction of M Night Shyamalan. The thriller flick gained much critical and commercial acclaim, collecting $227 million at the box office. The following year, he starred in the much-criticized flick, ‘It’s All About Love’.

In 2004, he collaborated with Shyamalan yet again to come up with the tale, ‘The Village’, wherein he played the character of a lovestruck farmer. The same year, he was seen in two more films, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ wherein he portrayed the role of a disillusioned cameraman, and ‘Ladder 49’ which had him playing the role of a heroic firefighter.

By then, he was popularly known amongst the audience as a character actor. He was famous for getting into the skin of the character and portraying real emotions and passion.

In 2005, he took a leap further by starring in a biopic, ‘Walk the Line’ which filmed the life of the country’s greatest musical talent, Johnny Cash. For the film, he went under rigorous musical training, learning the minute knick-knacks of singing and playing the guitar.

The hard work and perseverance for ‘Walk the Line’ paid off resoundingly as the film cashed in majorly at the box office. Furthermore, it garnered much critical acclaim and nominations in prestigious awards of the film fraternity. It also won him his first Golden Globe.

The highs of success took its toll on this outstandingly brilliant actor who soon came to terms with his drinking habit. However, he soon got rid of the same and turned to active filming.

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In the following years, he was seen in the film, ‘We Own the Night’ in which he was an executive producer as well. Next in line was ‘Reservation Road and James Gary’s independent drama, ‘Two Lovers’.

A controversy following his bizarre appearance and behavior in David Letterman’s Late Show created a stir amongst the audience who viewed it to be a publicity stunt. The subsequent retirement plan and the news of taking up the profession of singing also were not observed seriously by the people.

He then came up with a documentary film, ‘I’m Still Here’ with Casey Affleck. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.

Following a self-imposed two-year hiatus from acting, he returned to the big screen with Paul Thomas Anderson's film ‘The Master’ in 2012. The film was widely commended and applauded by the critics as well as the audiences. It also won him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor.

His film, ‘Her’, a directorial venture of Spike Jonze, had him play alongside Olivia Wilde, Amy Adams, and Rooney Mara. His brilliant portrayal of the character of Theodore Twombly won him a nomination at the Golden Globes.

In 2014, he starred as ‘Larry "Doc" Sportello’ in the period neo-noir mystery comedy film ‘Inherent Vice.’ The film scored a 74% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes.

He next starred in films like ‘Irrational Man,’ ‘Unity,’ ‘You Were Never Really Here,’ ‘Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot,’ ‘Mary Magdalene,’ ‘Dominion,’ and ‘The Sisters Brothers.’

In 2019, he portrayed ‘Arthur Fleck / Joker’ in the American thriller film ‘Joker’ directed and co-written by Todd Phillips. The film was based on the titular character in DC Comics and received positive reviews from critics.

He was next seen in the 2021 American black-and-white drama film ‘C'mon C'mon’ where he played the role of ‘Johnny.’ The film saw massive acclaim upon release and earned a 94% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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He is all set to appear in the upcoming epic historical drama film ‘Napoleon’ where he will portray ‘Napoleon Bonaparte.’

Awards & Achievements

He is the proud recipient of a Golden Globe Award in the category of Best Actor for the film, ‘Johnny Cash’. For the film, he even bagged a Grammy Award for his outstanding contribution to the soundtrack of the album.

He has to his credit several nominations in prestigious awards such as Academy Award, BAFTA, Satellite Awards, Screen Actors Guild, and so on.

In 2005, he was conferred with the Humanitarian Award for his work and contribution to the Nation Earth film, ‘Earthlings’.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1995, he started a relationship with actress Liv Tyler which lasted for three years. In 2001, he started dating Topaz Page-Green. However, the couple broke up in 2005.

He met Rooney Mara in 2012. They remained friends for a while before eventually starting dating. They got engaged in 2019 and welcomed their first child, a son named River, in 2020. The couple exchanged marriage vows in 2022.

An active social activist, he has been a loyal supporter of various charities and humanitarian organizations including, Amnesty International, The Art of Elysium, HEART, and the Peace Alliance. Additionally, he serves as one of the directors of the non-profit organization The Lunchbox Fund, which provides daily meals to students of township schools in Soweto of South Africa.

He is an active PETA activist and an ardent vegan.


This brilliant actor of the ‘Walk the Line’ fame changed his name to Leaf Phoenix during his early years of acting to be in tune with his siblings who had nature-related names like River, Rain, Summer, and so on.

Joaquin Phoenix Movies

1. Joker (2019)

  (Crime, Drama, Thriller)

2. Gladiator (2000)

  (Action, Adventure, Drama)

3. Walk the Line (2005)

  (Drama, Music, Romance, Biography)

4. Her (2013)

  (Sci-Fi, Romance, Drama)

5. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

  (Drama, History, War, Biography)

6. Quills (2000)

  (Drama, Biography)

7. Parenthood (1989)

  (Drama, Comedy)

8. Two Lovers (2008)

  (Drama, Romance)

9. The Master (2012)


10. We Own the Night (2007)

  (Crime, Thriller, Drama)


Academy Awards(Oscars)
2020 Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Joker (2019)
Golden Globe Awards
2020 Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Joker (2019)
2006 Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical Walk the Line (2005)
BAFTA Awards
2020 Best Leading Actor Joker (2019)
People's Choice Awards
2008 Favorite Leading Man Winner
Grammy Awards
2007 Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Walk the Line (2005)
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