Thanks to his starring role in the movie Joker and his incredible environmental efforts, Joaquin Phoenix has rapidly become one of the world’s best loved actors.
It might surprise you to learn that he comes from very humble beginnings and in slightly different circumstances he might have become a cult leader.
His Parents Were Cultists
Joaquin’s parents were, in fact, cultists.
They were part of a movement known as The Children of God who traveled through South America making converts wherever they went.
However, his parents weren’t in it for the long haul and they finally broke with the group when Joaquin was just 3 and thus, his cult-potential was effectively diminished for good.
They then changed their surname to “Phoenix” to symbolize their new birth.
Joaquin also decided to give himself the name of “Leaf” at this point, perhaps an omen of environmentalism to come, only changing it back when he became an actor at the age of 15.
Fame Came In The 2000s
Though he had been acting for a long while before it, it was his role in the movie Gladiator that made Joaquin a household name in the year 2000 for which he won an Academy Award nomination.
He then starred in a few hits before his career nosedived in 2005 and appeared to be in terminal decline.
He began his comeback in 2011 with another Oscar nominated performance in The Master.
In 2019, he cemented his return to form with his appearance in Joker, the DC comic adaption which has won both plaudits and condemnation in equal measure.
It made $1 billion though, so it can’t be all bad, right?
He Is An Activist
He has been a member of Amnesty International since he was a child, supports the Peace Alliance, The Lunchbox Fund and many other charities directly.
Famously, he is vegan and a member of both PETA and In Defense of Animals.
He supplied the narration for the movies Earthlings and Unity both of which lobby for better animal rights.
And this year, he was arrested when protesting against climate change with Jane Fonda (also arrested) and then he stood on stage at the Oscars and highlighted societal equality and animal rights for all.
Joaquin’s cult like beginnings have led to a cult around this passionate actor with a real heart for the planet.
For more inspiring stories of people making change don’t miss 12 Activist Fashion Models Making Beautiful Change.