Joaquin Phoenix without the mask of Joker: sects, hip-hop and a dead brother


The actor has always had a reputation as unfriendly, an attitude that is beginning to change. His complicated life has been one of the reasons given by the press.

He has never been the most pleasant in interviews. Nor has it needed to be. This Friday premieres ‘Joker’ and many take for granted that Joaquin Phoenix will take the Oscar for best actor next winter. Suddenly, it’s easy to see him smile and even admits his legendary bad character. A few days ago, he was interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel and acknowledged having regularly treated some teammates of the film’s technical team. What does this change obey? For years, asking him anything was an impossible mission and everyone knew that there was a taboo subject when talking to him: the death of his brother River (also an actor and, like him, the good guys).

His latest interviews have a clear indicator for the American press: Joaquin wants Oscar. And this time it seems that only a hurricane will prevent it: today is the great favorite (although there are months left for the gala) and also the protagonist of one of the Hollywood bombs of the year. Has the actor delivered to the mainstream? Does your own life influence this change in attitude?

Phoenix’s eccentricity may have to do with his own childhood. Son of countercultural parents who joined The Children of God, a Christian sect that defended evangelization through new reading of the Scriptures, he always knew what it was to go against the tide. Joaquin was born in Puerto Rico, during one of his parents’ journeys through South America with the sect. The actor himself has acknowledged that he went hungry when he did not lift two feet from the ground. In fact, he and River were responsible for scratching some money for the family playing the guitar. His parents were so committed to religious formation that they even gave their children names that had to do with nature. That is why River was called River and two of its sisters, Butterfly (Butterfly) or Summer (Summer).

When they got fed up with eating the road, the Bottoms (the last name Phoenix was adopted by the family once they settled in the United States) moved to Los Angeles. Lost and all the illusions related to religious fundamentalism, Joaquin’s parents put all their energies on River’s artistic talent as an actor. It was he who seemed to have more vocation when Joaquin was nothing more than a game. In those years, the NBC had hired Mrs. Phoenix and she took advantage of her position to take her son to all the boy castings that were made in the city of stars. That worked: in just a few years, River was already part of the cast of prestigious films such as ‘Count on me’ or ‘Indiana Jones and the last crusade’.

River’s success resulted in a nightmare the night he consumed more drugs from the account in the famous Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard. On October 30, 1993, the young man and two of his brothers (including Joaquin himself) had gone to the place where he was going to play the guitar. The owners refused to go on stage before the huge number of people who filled the Viper Room. Annoying and with enough narcotics on his body, River Phoenix collapsed as soon as he went out. His sister wanted to revive him practicing word of mouth and Joaquin ran to call the emergency services. Nothing could be done, since he died a few hours later.


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