Among the plenty of eccentric actors in Hollywood, only a few match the sheer insanity of Joaquin Phoenix. From the Academy Award-nominated actor to wannabe rapper, there are a plethora of crazy Joaquin Phoenix stories. Despite the adjectives like his idiocy, nuttiness, and insanity, the actor’s incredible talent is universally acknowledged. Let’s have some surreal facts about Joaquin Phoenix and his phenomenal acting career:
1- The reason behind the scar on his lip
Surely you have already noticed this as it’s one of his most unique facial features. Although you might assume that the scar appeared after an accident, surgery, or illness, the truth is that Joaquin was born with it. The scar has accompanied him throughout his entire life.
2- His hometown is San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He was born on October 28, 1974, and is of Puerto Rican nationality. He’s the third of 5 siblings and the son of an artistic couple that was traveling through Central and South America at the time. Joaquin lived for 3 years in his native San Juan.
3- Throughout his career, he has appeared in more than 30 films.
Joaquin made his theatrical film debut with the 1986 film SpaceCamp. In the film, he appeared as Max, a 12-year-old who gets a chance to go on an interstellar voyage. Since then, he has appeared in movies such as SpaceCamp, Gladiator, Her, Walk the Line and many others.
4- He’s been vegan since he was 3.
Joaquin’s family was vegan so he adopted that way of life from an early age. The Phoenix clan were raised as vegans, so it’s really no surprise that Joaquin has carried animal activism with him through adulthood. He’s currently working with organizations that protect animal rights and has also carried out campaigns in the past to raise awareness concerning animal abuse.
5- It took him 4 months to achieve the Joker’s laugh.
The character’s laughter is charged with suffering and fear since it’s prompted by a condition related to epilepsy. Phoenix studied the behavior of people with this symptom thoroughly for months until he managed to perform the unique laugh perfectly.
6- In 2008 he announced his retirement.
Phoenix tried fooling the world in 2008 when he declared that he was retiring from acting and planned to become a rapper. People really started questioning the whole thing after he actually performed at several interviews and press appearances. Turns out that Phoenix’s heart had never strayed from acting. All of the publicity stunts about becoming a rapper were actually for his role in the 2010 faux-documentary film I’m Still Here. Good try, Joaquin!
7- At age 6, he changed his name to Leaf.
Phoenix comes from a decently sized family, with his siblings all having some pretty cool names. There’s River, Rain, Summer, and Liberty with Joaquin right smack dab in the middle. And his real last name? Bottom. No kidding. When he was a 6 YO kid, Phoenix changed his name to Leaf. I mean, why not, right? He actually had a pretty level-headed reason for doing it, too. This lasted until he was 16 when he decided to use his real name again.
8- He worked as a firefighter for a whole month to practice for a role.
Phoenix really committed to his role as a heroic firefighter in 2004’s Ladder 49. He actually went to the Baltimore Fire Academy—and graduated! For a whole month, he lived and breathed firefighting, which included attending to real fires.
9- He had to lose almost 45 pounds to play the Joker.
Although he thought that the best thing to do for the role would be to gain some weight, Todd Phillips, the director of the film, convinced him otherwise. He followed a strict diet that helped him lose almost 45 pounds.
10- His brother, River Phoenix, also began working as an actor when he was a child.
River Phoenix was the first family member to venture into acting. He was celebrated for his performance in Stand by Me and was later nominated for Running on Empty.
11- He won a Grammy for his portrayal of Johnny Cash.
Together with Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin starred in Walk the Line where he played Johnny Cash. The album he recorded for the film was awarded a Grammy for “Best Compilation Soundtrack.”
12- He has been nominated for an Oscar 3 times.
Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor” for his performance in Gladiator in 2000. In 2005 he also received a nomination for “Best Leading Actor” for his role in Walk the Line and later on in 2012, he was nominated in the same category for his work on The Master, a film in which he played a WWII veteran.
13- He played Max in SpaceCamp.
His first film was SpaceCamp where he played Max, a 10-year-old boy who along with other comrades, enters a summer camp where he receives training to become an astronaut.
14- He produced the documentary, What the Health.
In 2017, Joaquin worked as executive producer for What The Health. The documentary aims to encourage a plant-based diet and highlight the benefits that vegetables have over processed meats.
15- He prefers to talk to his fans instead of taking pictures.
Don’t ever expect to be posting a selfie with Phoenix–he simply won’t pose for it. He prefers conversations! He likes to spend some time with them instead of just posing for a photograph.