Born in October 28th 1974 to Arlyn Phoenix and John Lee Bottom, Joaquin Phoenix was born as Joaquin Rafael Bottom in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. His parents were American and he lived there for around six years and was one of five siblings. His parents were missionaries for the Children of God group and were constantly on the move. For a period they lived in Los Angeles where the mother discovered her children’s natural affinity for acting and putting up shows. River Phoenix, who was a talented actor and tragically died at 23, was Joaquin's older brother. She got in touch with an agent who could represent them.
Joaquin rose to Hollywood fame with a number of movies through the years, and especially with Gladiator (2000) and Walk the Line (2005). However, he had small beginnings. With the help of his brother, he managed to land himself a show named Seven Brides for Seven Brothers which in turn got him other small parts in some series. In this way, his acting career took off and he made his first film debut in 1986 in the movie Space Camp where he had a supporting role as an aspiring astronaut. In a surprising turn of events, he got his big break when he left Hollywood and moved to Florida. It was here where he landed himself a role in the movie Parenthood (1989) directed by Ron Howard. In this movie however, he was credited as Leaf Phoenix and not Joaquin as we know him today. His performance was very impressive, but he decided to keep his acting career on hold and moved to Latin America.
Life wasn’t all smooth sailing for this actor. In 1993, he was in the public eye when his brother River collapsed and started having convulsions. He did not make it that night and Leaf lost his brother on October 31st. The years passed and Phoenix continued his film career and starred as an underachieving kid who falls for an ambitious reporter (Nicole Kidman) in the movie To Die for (1995). Following the success of his previous movies, Joaquin almost won the best actor’s award for his role as Emperor Commodus in the movie Gladiator alongside Russell Crowe. He got a lot of nominations for his role in this movie and it earned him recognition in the film awards. Apart from this, Joaquin has successfully played supporting roles in movies like Signs (2002) and Hotel Rwanda (2004).
Apart from the critically acclaimed success of Joaquin for his role in Gladiator, he stepped it up a level with his performance in the movie Walk the Line (2005) where he plays the legendary Johnny Cash and does an amazing job. To deliver such a powerful performance, he had to learn to play the guitar like Johnny Cash by taking music lessons from the film’s executive music director.
His most recognized roles in the latest years are in The Master (2012), alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Her (2013).
Aside from his acting career, Joaquin Phoenix is active in supporting a number of noteworthy causes like the Lunchbox Fund which helps in providing food to children in need. He has always been a vegan all his life and has been a spokesperson for PETA for a couple of years now.