The brilliance that award-winning actor Joaquin
Phoenix displays on camera is unparalleled,
but his private life is far less glamorous.
Even the best screenwriters couldn't capture
the hardships and devastation the actor has
This is his tragic real-life story.
"Think what you think about me, hate me or
like me, just don't misunderstand me."
Growing up Phoenix
After spending his formative years in a cult,
along with his family, Details reported Joaquin's
parents struggled to provide for their five
children once they left the sect and moved
Phoenix remembered a time when they lived
in a one bedroom apartment that didn't allow
When the owner would stop by, he and his siblings
would have to hide behind a laundry machine
He told Esquire,
"I don't forget that.
It's f---ing crazy to me.
I'm just really, really fortunate.
That's what it is."
He calls it luck, but some might say his hard
work paid off.
In 2006, he purchased a $4.8 million pad in
the Hollywood Hills.
And in 2013, he plopped down another $1.3
million to purchase his neighbor's house.
Not bad for a guy who once shared a one-bedroom
apartment with his entire family.
A tragic loss
It was Joaquin's eldest brother, River, who
emerged as the breakout star of the family.
River made a name for himself after appearing
in 1986's Stand by Me and 1991's My Own Private
"I'd like to go someplace where nobody knows
It seemed River would seamlessly transition
from child star into more mature roles, but
before he could realize his full potential,
he died of a drug overdose outside of Hollywood's
Viper Room in 1993.
He was just 23 years old.
Grief-stricken, Joaquin took a two-year break
from acting, per the Independent.
But despite putting on a brave face in the
press, some suspect the loss of his brother
damaged Joaquin more than he would admit.
Rumors of a meltdown
When Phoenix was cast in 2005's Walk the Line,
fans anticipated it would be the most successful
role of his entire career.
"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."
The movie required Phoenix to channel the
troubled musician, who battled drug and alcohol
Many suspected that River's death may have
haunted him during a scene depicting the death
of Cash's own brother, but Phoenix denied
reports of an on-set meltdown, telling Newsweek,
"You know, the press has kind of imposed upon
me the title of Mourning Brother… and all
this s--- that's just not there.
I don't need to pull from my experience for
But there were other signs pointing to a downward
"What's with the black?"
"Looks like you're going to a funeral."
"Maybe I am."
Spending time in rehab
It wasn't until after shooting wrapped, that
Phoenix realized he had a problem.
He told Time Out magazine,
"It was then that I became aware of my drinking…
I was leaning on alcohol to make me feel okay."
He checked into a rehab facility in 2005,
and following his stay, began attending Alcoholics
According to the New York Times, he later
called the network,
"… the best thing I ever did."
His filming process
"I can't write, I can't breathe, couldn't
remember the reason for living, and when I
did it wasn't convincing."
With a decades-long career in the film and
television industry, you'd think Phoenix would
be as cool as a cucumber in front of the cameras.
But he told Interview magazine that he suffers
from "incredible anxiety" claiming,
"They have to put f---ing pads in my armpits
because I sweat so much…
For the first three weeks of shooting, I'm
It's pure anxiety, and I love it."
His own worst critic
Phoenix has starred in some incredible films,
including Gladiator, The Master, and Two Lovers.
He even snagged a 2006 Golden Globe for Walk
the Line and a 2017 Cannes Film Festival best
actor award for You Were Never Really Here.
His reputation as a critically-acclaimed actor
is well-deserved, but there's one person who's
not exactly a fan of his work, and that's
"You said, 'I hate the last movie I do so
much that I feel that my next job is gonna
right a lot of wrongs.'"
"I think I did say that."
Phoenix told The New York Times,
"I don't watch myself…
I can be really affected by things like, 'Do
I look good?'
'Do I look bad?'
I want it to be what I'm feeling as opposed
to something outside the experience."
Lonely at the top
Being a superstar who's surrounded by fame,
fans, and the media sounds like a life to
be envied, but looks can be deceiving.
Phoenix has talked about the dangers of being
in the spotlight and just how isolating a
career as an actor can truly be.
After wrapping Walk The Line, he told The
"It was really hard for me to leave the movie.
I was angry and hurt and felt abandoned.
I didn't know what to do."
"Film is never gonna live up to the experience
that I had, that I felt."
But Phoenix may have had a good reason for
feeling an emptiness post-filming.
Walk The Line director, James Mangold, told
the Times that Phoenix had completely embodied
his character for the film.
"I could shoot Joaquin from the back, and
without seeing his face, you would be able
to tell what he was feeling.
He never impersonated Johnny Cash, he became
The brilliance that award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix displays on camera is unparalleled, but his private life is far less glamorous. Even the best screenwriters couldn't capture the hardships and devastation the actor has lived through. This is his tragic real-life story.
Growing up Phoenix | # A tragic loss | # Rumors of a meltdown | # Spending time in rehab | # His filming process | # His own worst critic | # Lonely at the top | #