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Joaquin Phoenix is an actor known for such films as Gladiator and Walk the Line, in which he played Johnny Cash.
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Born on October 28, 1974, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Joaquin Phoenix followed the footsteps of his brother, River Phoenix, into Hollywood fame as an actor, starring in such films as Gladiator and Walk the Line, for which he won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar. In 2009, Phoenix said he was retiring to work on his rap music, leaving fans to wonder what the future held for the actor.
"My parents always encouraged us to express ourselves. And so it seemed like second nature to start acting."
Actor Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Phoenix in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on October 28, 1974. As the son of the missionaries for the Children of God religious group, Phoenix moved frequently with his family during his early life. His parents, John and Arlyn Bottom, completed stints in Central and South America before becoming disillusioned with the cult. After they left the group, the family took the new surname Phoenix, which was symbolic of their new life.
Moving to Los Angeles around the age of four, Joaquin and his siblings—older brother River, older sister Rain, and younger sisters Liberty and Summer—soon tried to make their way in Hollywood. The Phoenix children already liked to put on shows for each other before their mother found an agent to represent them. "We all used to sing and play music, and we were all very outgoing. My parents always encouraged us to express ourselves. And so it seemed like second nature to start acting," Phoenix explained to Interview magazine.
The first breakout star was River, who landed a role on the short-lived television series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which aired from 1982 to 1983. Through his brother, Joaquin made a guest appearance on the show when he was 8 years old, which led to other small television parts on such shows as The Fall Guy, Hill Street Blues, and Murder, She Wrote. He even appeared with River in an ABC Afterschool Special about dyslexia; the two played brothers. At the time, Joaquin was using the name Leaf, which he had chosen for himself when he was six years old. He returned to using his birth name around the age of 16.
Making his film debut in 1986, Phoenix had a supporting role as a wannabe astronaut in the kids adventure movie SpaceCamp. He also tried his hand at primetime drama with Morningstar/Eveningstar, a story of homeless children who find shelter at a facility for senior citizens. Unfortunately, this meeting of the young and old only lasted a few episodes before being canceled.
Remarkably, one of his biggest breaks came when Phoenix left Hollywood. He had moved to Florida, when he landed a role in the Ron Howard-directed comedy Parenthood (1989). In the film, Phoenix gave an impressive performance as the rebellious son of Dianne Wiest. After this success Phoenix, who was then only 15 years old, decided to put his career on hold to travel on his own through Latin America. While he avoided Hollywood, his brother River stood in the spotlight, becoming one of the leading young actors at the time.
In 1993, tragedy forced Phoenix back into the public eye.
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