Phoenix Rising

Joaquin Phoenix heats up the screen in 2018

BY: Claire Connors

Considering how much we know about the actor Joaquin Phoenix, he’s a remarkably private person. The child of hippies who worked and lived in an international communal cult—the same one that Rose McGowan was raised in—Joaquin started his career with a more organic name. Like his brother, River, and sisters Rain, Liberty, and Summer, he wanted a nature-related calling card and picked the name, Leaf. He appeared in a few projects under that name, including Ron Howard’s film version of Parenthood (1989), before he changed it back to its original, Joaquin.

He came charging out of the gate in Gus Van Sant’s murderous hit, To Die For (1995) playing the teenaged lover of a depraved Nicole Kidman, and has been impressing us ever since. In 2005, his portrayal of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line showed off some serious vocal skills—even the Man in Black approved!—and garnered an Academy Award nomination for best actor. After a brief hiatus where he seemingly lost his mind, announcing he was becoming a rapper, a career change that never materialized, he returned in 2011 in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology-based masterpiece, The Master.

His quiet, intense demeanor was best used in Spike Jonze’s sci-fi comedy, Her (2013), in which he played a lonely man who falls hopelessly in love with his computer operating system, voiced by the husky-sexy Scarlett Johansson.

Always making interesting acting choices, Phoenix continues to win praise. This year, he earned the best acting award (and a seven minute standing ovation) at Cannes for his role in the thriller, You Were Never Really Here, about a tormented law enforcer who tries to save a girl from a sex slave ring.

Currently living with his girlfriend, actress Rooney Mara, he also co-stars with her in next year’s religious drama, Mary Magdalene playing the ultimate role, Jesus. He also reunites with Gus Van Sant in the bio-drama, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, about the quadriplegic cartoonist, John Callahan. And finally, he dons a cowboy hat for Casey Affleck’s upcoming western, Far Bright Star, a survivor story about a cavalryman in search of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of Joaquin Phoenix in 2018, and we are not complaining. We’re just happy the “rap star” is back doing his day job so well.