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Feb 10, 2013
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Biographic
Steve McGarry

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Rafael Phoenix was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on October 28, 1974.  His parents were missionaries for the Children of God religious sect and adopted Phoenix as the family surname.  When the family settled in Los Angeles, after spending years in Central and South America, the five Phoenix kids jumped enthusiastically into acting careers - although, as strict vegans, they refused to appear in TV commercials for meat, milk, or junk food.  Joaquin, who was billed at that time as Leaf Phoenix, first appeared in TV shows alongside his older brother, River Phoenix.

Following his movie debut in 1986 in "Spacecamp," he starred in 1987's "Russkies" and Appeared in the 1989 hit "Parenthood," before dropping out of acting to move to Mexico with his dad.  In 1993, a family tragedy put him back in the spotlight when 23-year-old River Phoenix, one of the brightest young stars in movies, collapsed and died outside a Hollywood nightclub.  Joaquin, who was with his brother that night, was deeply affected and considered leaving movies for good.  

At the insistence of friends, he began to read scripts again, and returned to the screen in 1995's "To Die For."  His stardom was assured with his Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as the brutal Commodus in 2000's "gladiator," and then cemented by his Golden Globe-winning portrayal of country legend Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line," a movie which also earned him his second Academy Award nomination.  

In 2008, he announced that he had abandoned acting to pursue a career in hip-hop, although the move was subsequently revealed as an elaborate spoof and the basis for the mockumentary film "I'm Still Here."  

He did, however, take a long break from movies, before returning in 2012 in "The Master."  His memorable performance has earned him extensive awards recognition.
Feb 24, 2013
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