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Joaquin Phoenix: 6 Facts You Might Not Know About The Oscar Winning Actor


After nearly 20 years of award-worthy roles and nominations, Joaquin Phoenix has finally gotten an Oscar at the Academy Awards. The win for Joker has thrust the actor's name back into the limelight and may have some wondering about what all led the actor to this point and time.

While they may not provide the full picture, these facts should give anyone interested in the life of Joaquin Phoenix a good idea of what the Oscar-winning actor is all about. From his favorite movie, his odd beginnings, and the tragedy he's faced, here are six facts worth knowing about Joaquin Phoenix.

Joaquin Phoenix Her

Joaquin Phoenix Is A Strict Vegan

Some may have thought Joaquin Phoenix made a random detour in his Oscar acceptance speech when he mentioned cows, but the actor has been a strict vegan since the age of 4. Phoenix mentioned in an interview with Collider that he first made the decision after seeing fish be killed while on a boat with his family. The image was so visceral, he made the decision right then and there.

From then on, Joaquin Phoenix was about animal rights and eating Vegan. That includes when it comes to his clothing, to the point that he refused to wear leather sandals for his role in Gladiator. So really, what may have seemed like a random moment in his Oscar speech was a passionate moment for Phoenix and a revelation of his passion about a subject some may not have known before then.

The Master Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix's Family Was Involved In A Cult

Before he was an Oscar winner, Joaquin Phoenix and his family were a part of The Children Of God. The group boasted a sizable following in the late-60s and gained controversy for its "Flirty Fishing" policy of members initiating sex with others in order to entice them into the cult. Phoenix said his family left soon after learning of the policy, obviously not willing to engage in that to continue being included.

Phoenix has spoken publicly of his time in the cult, though it's worth noting he was very young at the time his family was involved in it. The actor told Vanity Fair he believed his parents were idealists at the time, and found a community that felt like a family they could rely on. Phoenix has added that his parents were never negligent, and has never spoken negatively on his parents decision to join The Children Of God.

River Phoenix Stand By Me

Joaquin Phoenix Was There When His Brother River Died

The death of River Phoenix is a well-known Hollywood tragedy, but one detail that may have been forgotten by some over time is that Joaquin Phoenix was present when it happened. The future Joker star placed a 911 call begging authorities to hurry as his brother was having convulsions on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room club, which was owned at the time by actor Johnny Depp.

Joaquin Phoenix's 911 call would play in the media in the days following River Phoenix's death. Phoenix told 60 Minutes the media coverage of his brother's death was a surprise to the family, who was largely disconnected from entertainment and unaware of how famous River was at the time. The Oscar winner said the attention and commotion surrounding his brother's death impeded on his mourning process at the time, and to this day he still struggles with saying his brother's name or talking about him.

Joaquin Phoenix Gladiator

Joaquin Phoenix Met Johnny Cash Long Before Walk The Line And Talked About Gladiator

Though he won the Oscar for Joker, Joaquin Phoenix has given a few award-worthy performances in his career so far. One of which was in Gladiator, a movie that Phoenix revealed to Conan O'Brien that Country legend Johnny Cash was a huge fan of. The Oscar winner met Cash at a dinner party long before discussions were made for him to play him in Walk The Line, and the two had an interesting discussion regarding his past work.

According to Phoenix, Cash was a big fan of Gladiator. Cash pulled him aside to tell him as much, and that he particularly liked when Phoenix's Commodus taunted Maximus in the arena. Phoenix then said Cash recited the line back from memory to him, which included the crucifixion of Maximus' child and the rape of his wife. It sounded like it was a truly bizarre experience, and based on Phoenix's reaction when he told the story, it may be one that he never forgets.

Step Brothers

Joaquin Phoenix Is A Big Fan Of The Movie Step Brothers

For a guy that has done so many high brow and award-winning movies in his career, one may expect Joaquin Phoenix to have a movie akin to that as one he revisits time and time again. It turns out that's not the case, as the Oscar winner has revealed a number of times that Adam McKay's Step Brothers is the movie that he's watched more than any other film.

Phoenix is such a fan of Step Brothers, that he told APNews his fandom factored into his decision to co-star alongside John C. Reilly in The Sisters Brothers. Phoenix said Reilly's performance in Step Brothers is much deeper than one may think, and that Reilly and Will Ferrell have made him "pee his pants and fall down laughing." If that's not an actor confessing some profound appreciation for another movie, I don't know what is.

Space Camp Joaquin Phoenix

His Child Acting Roles Are Under Another Name

Though his birth name was Joaquin, the actor has not always used that name in Hollywood. Many of his childhood roles (including SpaceCamp and Parenthood) are credited under the name "Leaf Phoenix," which was a name he gave himself as a child in order to have a name similar to his brothers and sisters. Phoenix reverted back to Joaquin around his teenage years, and has gone by Joaquin Phoenix ever since.

And yes, Phoenix is his family last name. He was originally born Joaquin Bottom, though his family changed their name to Phoenix when he was 3. It's hard to say whether or not his career would've shaped up differently had he continued a career under the name Leaf Phoenix, though I personally believe it wouldn't roll off the tongue nearly as well.

Joker is currently available to own on Digital, DVD, and Blu-Ray. Stick with CinemaBlend for more on Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix and for the latest news happening in movies and television.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.