(Credit: Warner Bros)
In the late 1980s and ’90s, Joaquin Phoenix followed his brother River’s footsteps into Hollywood. He was first recognised for childhood roles such as those in 1986’s SpaceCamp and 1989’s Parenthood but broke through in 2000 following his Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Commodus in Ridley Scott’s historical epic Gladiator.
Throughout his career, Joaquin has been inspired by his late brother, River. The actor was four years older than Joaquin and received widespread acclaim in the 1980s for his roles in Stand by Me and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Before he died in 1993, a supportive River told his younger brother that he would one day become the more successful actor of the pair.
In a 2020 episode of the CBS show 60 Minutes, Joaquin revealed that one day, River came home from a shoot and told him: “You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am, you’re going to be better known than I am.”
He added that everything changed when one day, River told him to watch Martin Scorsese’s 1980 Robert De Niro collaboration, Raging Bull. “Through my brother and his understanding and appreciation of that kind of acting, I think it just awakened something in me, and I suddenly could see it through his eyes,” Joaquin said.
Over the past two decades, Phoenix has constructed a career his brother would undoubtedly have been immensely proud of. In 2005, he earned an Oscar nomination for ‘Best Actor’ for his portrayal of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and again in 2012 for his leading role in The Master.
These vital milestones culminated in a career peak in 2020, when Phoenix finally won an Academy Award for his leading role in Todd Phillips’ DC Comics movie, The Joker. A widely awed performance as the titular psychopath quelled notable competition from fellow ‘Best Actor’ nominees Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas.
Before Joker arrived in 2019, it seemed that Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the character in 2008’s The Dark Knight was unbeatable. However, Phoenix’s talent has triggered much conjecture among movie fans as we approach Phillips’ highly anticipated follow-up, Joker: Folie à Deux. The sequel will co-star Lady Gaga and arrive in October 2024.
Watch some rare test footage of Joaquin Phoenix from the Joker set below.