From his Children of God affiliations to his reclusive lifestyle, here is a glance inside of Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre life.

Cult

There’s no question that Joaquin Phoenix had an interesting upbringing. From his birth in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1974 to his numerous successful films, there hasn’t been a dull moment in this actor’s life.

Joaquin’s childhood was one of the most bizarre of any celebrity. During the 1970s, his parents decided to join the Children of God, a religious group that caused a lot of trouble. The cult’s controversy stemmed mostly from their use of “Flirty Fishing,” in which members would have intimate relations with people to “show God’s love and mercy” and convince them to convert to their way of life. They wanted to spread their beliefs about the impending apocalypse, salvation, “spiritual revolution and happiness,” and “The System,” which was how members referred to the world outside their group.

When he was discussing his time in the cult later in life, Joaquin said that when people bring Children of God up to him, it always feels like they’re blaming his parents somehow.

But, he said that he believes his mom and dad were innocent believers and weren’t aware of the groups’ negative aspects. However, once they realized that Children of God were doing things that they weren’t okay with, they left.

Childhood

Both of Joaquin’s parents, John Lee Bottom and Arlyn Phoenix, are from the mainland of the United States even though that had him in San Juan.

He has a total of four siblings, Rain, Liberty, River, and Summer. Arlyn was born to Jewish parents in New York, and her extended family came from Russia and Hungary. Joaquin’s dad came from Fontana, California and is of English, French Huguenot, and German descent. John and Arlyn met while she was hitchhiking in California in 1968, and they tied the knot a year later.

After they left the Children of God, they made “Phoenix” their last name as a symbol of starting anew. During this time, Joaquin took on the nickname “Leaf” because he wanted a name related to nature like his brother and sisters. He used the nickname until he was fifteen years old when he began going by “Joaquin” again.

Throughout his childhood, Joaquin and his siblings sang and played music in contests and on the streets to help provide money and food for their family.

When they were in Los Angeles, Arlyn became an NBC secretary, and John began working in landscaping. Joaquin and the rest of the Phoenix kids started acting after Iris Burton got them work doing TV appearances and commercials.

At eight years old, Joaquin and River debuted in the show Seven Brides for Seven Brothers episode in 1982.

Personal Life

This handsome actor has dated equally as attractive women. From 1995 to 1998, he was with Liv Tyler, who starred alongside him in the 1997 film Inventing the Abbotts. Joaquin was also in a relationship with Topaz Page-Green, a model from South Africa, from 2001 to 2005.

From 2013 to 2015, he was seeing DJ Allie Teilz, who was actually raised in Phoenix, Arizona… not that the two have anything to do with one another. But, Joaquin has been with Rooney Mara since 2016. However, they didn’t come out as a couple until 2017 at a Cannes Film Festival event.

Anxiety On Set

You might think that somebody as immersed in the acting world as Joaquin Phoenix wouldn’t be nervous doing filming.

However, back in 2013, he revealed that he continually experiences anxiety while he’s acting.

During an interview with Esquire, he said that it feels like his first time every time he’s in a movie.

He further noted that he’s so anxious on set that he shakes uncontrollably, and his nerves physically come through. Joaquin added that he’s terrified during filming and they even have to put pads under his armpits to soak up his sweat.

Walk The Line

One of Joaquin’s most famous roles was Johnny Cash in the 2005 film Walk the Line. Johnny Cash even approved Joaquin for the role.

In addition to portraying the renowned singer, Phoenix sang and played the music himself. After the movie was released, it grossed one hundred eighty-six million dollars, and Joaquin’s performance was praised by critics.

He was nominated for an Academy Award for the part, and he won a Golden Globe and Grammy for his work.

Rise To Fame

Joaquin was in his first theatrical film in 1986 in SpaceCamp. But, it wasn’t until he played Steve Martin’s nephew in Parenthood in 1989 that he gained recognition.

The movie made one hundred twenty-six million dollars internationally, and he was nominated for a Young Artist Award for his part.

After taking a break from acting, Phoenix returned to the big screen in 1995. He went on to act in movies like Signs, It’s All About Love, The Village, and Ladder 49.

Phoenix also voiced Kenai in the 2003 Disney film Brother Bear, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination.

Lied To Letterman

Joaquin Phoenix is known for his oddities, including his spoof documentary called I’m Still Here. If you’ve watched the movie, then you know that Phoenix gets a kick out of telling tall tales and initiating conversation and debates.

But, one of the things he did was tell David Letterman that he was engaged in 2014. Joaquin said that he’d been trying to do yoga and demonstrated “the harnessing of the hog” move that his instructor taught him, which Letterman insisted wasn’t a real pose.

Then, Phoenix stated that the crazier part of the story was that he and the instructor began dating. He added that he’d proposed and she said “yes.”

David asked again if Phoenix was getting married to make sure he was serious. Joaquin assured Letterman that if everything went as planned, then he was definitely getting hitched to his yoga instructor. He let the public know that he was joking a couple of days later and said that his “life is so boring” that the fib “seemed like it was something exciting to talk about.”

Joaquin told Ellen DeGeneres a year later that he lied because he wanted the audience to like him and “they really like people who are getting married.” They tested the theory by telling her audience he was engaged again, and, of course, they applauded.

Mother & Usher

Joaquin isn’t the only Phoenix who doesn’t mind getting weird; his mother is another one whose free spirit shines through.

During a 2015 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, the host asked Joaquin if he gets drunk during the awards shows. Then, he asked whether or not his mother gets drunk, and Phoenix said that she doesn’t.

However, he told a story about how he took his mom to Diddy’s afterparty the year before. He said that his mom loves dancing and that she set off the entire party. Joaquin had left the room for a minute, and when he came back, his mom was dancing with Usher.

River

Joaquin’s life hasn’t been easy; from his childhood in a cult to his brother’s passing. River was born in 1970 and was the eldest of the Phoenix children. He had horrible experiences in the Children of God and was physically harmed at just four years old. As he got older, River began gaining recognition in movies like Stand By Me and My Own Private Idaho.

However, the actor’s career and life came to a startling end in 1993 after he overdosed in The Viper Room in Hollywood, which was owned by Johnny Depp at the time.

He passed away outside the club in the early morning hours when he was only twenty-three years old. While his brother was experiencing seizures outside The Viper Room, Joaquin was the one to call 911.

After various outlets repeatedly played the phone call for news stories, Joaquin backed out of the spotlight for a year.

Amy Poehler

Joaquin always enjoys stirring the pot on various subjects and giving the media something to gossip about. He’s lied about an engagement, interviewed in character for I’m Still Here with David Letterman, and discussed the hassle of putting on shoes with Ellen DeGeneres.

But, another thing he talked about during an interview was his crush on Amy Poehler on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2015. Joaquin admitted that he finds Amy “very attractive.” But, Kimmel noted that Poehler had a boyfriend, and after Joaquin’s face dropped, he reassured the actor that her boyfriend hadn’t been nominated as many times as he had.

The Joker

Joaquin Phoenix’s outlandish personality is what truly sets him apart from other celebrities. He’s not afraid to be himself, and his interesting past has added to that. So, one role that is the perfect fit for this talented star is DC’s Joker.

Joaquin considered taking on a comic book character for a long time, but he wanted something unique. Phoenix said that he wasn’t interested in a big-time film series and was more intrigued by a character study of one of the villains.

Originally, he didn’t want to portray the Joker because he said it’s been done before. But, after hearing the Warner Bros. idea for the film, he thought it was exciting. He noted that the role scared him; however, Joaquin likes a challenge and said “it feels unique.” That’s because this movie is its own entity and focuses on how and why the Joker, aka Arthur Fleck, became the villain that eventually goes up against Batman.

The story follows the character’s failure at his dream of stand-up comedy, his deteriorating mental state, and his evolution into a renowned criminal in Gotham City.

Phoenix lost a significant amount of weight for the role, bringing Fleck’s desolation to life.

Jesus

It isn’t every day that somebody gets to walk in the shoes of the Christian savior. But, Joaquin Phoenix received the incredible opportunity in the 2018 movie Mary Magdalene. Plus, the title character is portrayed by none other than Rooney Mara.

Joaquin said during an interview that he had to “find the humanity” to play the character because people usually focus on the “mythical side of Jesus.”

Whatever the case, Joaquin has proven time and time again that he’s versatile in his roles. So, if anyone should play such an iconic figure, it’s him.

Reclusive Lifestyle

Although Joaquin is an internationally-known celebrity at this point in his career, there are many times when he’d rather not be recognized.

At an event for the film You Were Never Really Here, sources stated that he didn’t appear that he wanted to be there. Somebody even said that he was pretty far outside his comfort zone that night.

However, Joaquin isn’t the only one who doesn’t necessarily enjoy the life of fame. His girlfriend, Rooney Mara, also likes to keep out of the limelight whenever possible. A source noted that they make a great match because they’re “both shy homebodies” that “loathe the press.”

He and Mara prefer to stay at home and enjoy vegan meals that come from Joaquin’s garden. They aren’t often spotted out and about like other celebrities.

A producer that has worked with him before noted that Phoenix is great at playing certain characters because he’s dealt with similar situations in his personal life.

He further stated that Joaquin believes he’s boring and is “better at being a character than being himself.” The producer added that hiding is Phoenix’s “natural state.” Despite what Phoenix reportedly thinks of himself, just about everyone else out there can agree that this actor is one of the most interesting and unique people in Hollywood.