Joaquin Phoenix is undoubtedly a unique individual. He definitely didn’t have your typical childhood. Born Joaquin Bottom, his parents were members of a religious cult called Children of God until he was three years old. Then they returned to the United States in the late 1970s and changed their last name to Phoenix after the mythical bird. Phoenix began calling itself “Leaf” to align with the quality of nature of its brothers and sisters: River, Rain, Summer and Liberty. Leaf Phoenix was actually the name he received when he made his film debut at the age of twelve at SPACECAMP in 1986.
Perhaps it was Joaquin Phoenix’s early life that defined his adult peculiarity. He is notoriously unconventional in his interviews (just ask Anderson Cooper) and once asked a journalist if he had a frog in his hair. The sequence in JOKER where it is locked in a refrigerator was completely out of the left field and improvised. Not even Todd Phillips knew what he was going to do. This peculiarity culminated in the “documentary” of Casey Affleck in 2010, I AM STILL HERE, where Phoenix “stopped acting” to pursue a rap race. The whole thing was extremely strange, but honestly, it is a mark for Joaquin Phoenix.
Despite the eccentricities of Phoenix, the talent of man cannot be denied. He has been nominated for four Academy Awards, won two Golden Globes and even took home a Grammy. With films like WALK THE LINE, GLADIATOR, THE MASTER and SIGNS to his credit, he has truly become one of the great actors of this generation. Last year, Phoenix delivered the performance of his career with JOKER, a tour de force of the performance that took the actor to his limits. He is currently cleaning the awards circuit and is the favorite to win the Best Actor in this year’s Academy Awards.
If Phoenix wins the Oscar, he will not be the first actor to win an award for playing the Clown Crime Prince. Australian actor Heath Ledger won the famous 2008 film by Christopher Nolan THE DARK KNIGHT. Last Sunday, Joaquin Phoenix took home his first Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Actor. Phoenix graciously accepted the award and thanked Ledger in his speech:
The famous physicist Isaac Newton once said: “If I have seen further than others, it is putting me on the shoulders of giants.” No doubt Heath Ledger was a giant in the world of acting. Although it was once thought that he was simply the pretty boy in films like A KNIGHT’S TALE and 10 THINGS I HATE About You, the protagonist of Ledger in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN of Ang Lee put aside all doubts about his talent as an actor. Tomorrow marks the twelfth anniversary of his death and it is heartbreaking to think what incredible movies he could have done if it weren’t for his premature disappearance. For Joaquin Phoenix, not only recognizing Ledger’s greatness but calling him his favorite actor says a lot.
So, are you encouraging Joaquin Phoenix at the Oscars? Do you think JOKER will win the best movie? What roles do you think Heath Ledger would have assumed if he had lived? Let us know in the comments section below!