They say that the death of a child is so terrible that there is no word to define it. But what happens to the death of a brother? Nor does he have a word to name it. Perhaps because these farewells are also the most brutal pains that the human soul can experience.
A universe of unanswered questions exploded in the face of Joaquin Phoenix on October 31, 1993. That day his 23-year-old brother River died when he left a nightclub. The young man with one of the most promising careers in Hollywood fell victim to a lethal cocktail of drugs that mixed liquid cocaine and heroin.
Joaquin was 19 when he learned that his world would never be the same. That night he was also in that place when he saw that his brother was dying and he could not save him. Desperate called 911, that request for help – which was made public – shows all the anguish of the one who wants to save and cannot.RELATED
“He's having spasms, on Sunset and Larrabee Street. Please come here. I think he took Valium or something, I don't know. Please! It's dying! Please! ”He pleads, but death had already chosen and he would not back down.
Today that desperate young man became many years later the actor who dazzles in "Joker".
His physical transformation is amazing: he lost 23 kilos to play the role. He spent four months on a diet and although it first transpired that he fed only one apple a day, Joaquin explained that his diet was supervised by a doctor and that it included many types of vegetables. But not only his physical change is incredible, but also his interpretation. In fact, many critics say that the film would not be what it is if its protagonist was not who he is.
Cinephiles and not so long have known that the protagonist of "Joker" plays in the major leagues of the performance. Undoubtedly his best known role is that of his perverse emperor in "Gladiator." But it was also that young man between a fool and in love with "Everything for a dream", the tortured Johnny Cash in "Johnny & June", and the man in love with a voice in "She". Each person can choose their favorite Phoenix in one of the 50 films where they performed.
His life is almost as rich as his characters. It started 44 years ago in Puerto Rico. His parents belonged to a sect called "Children of God" and as missionaries they moved to the island. The sect was based on the "Law of Love", however it was banned in 1978 denounced for prostitution and pedophilia.
But before this ban, the Phoenix were convinced members of the sect and decided to raise their children in a free, creative environment with some peculiarities. Without fixed work, the couple asked for money in the street while their children – not schooled by choice – sang religious songs.
They were all called with names associated with nature. River (Rain), Rain (rain), Liberty Butterfly (Butterfly of freedom) and Summer (butterfly). Consolidated with the family style, at the age of three Joaquin decided that he also wanted a natural life and decided that it would be called Leaf (leaf) and also would be vegetarian, a decision that he still maintains.
It turns out that their parents, after a time as missionaries in Venezuela, decided to leave the sect because the leader had proposed to attract new faithful using sex. Phoenix recently told an interview in Vanity fair magazine how it was that moment: "They received a letter, or whatever it came from, any suggestion of that and they said‘ fuck, we are leaving here, "said the actor. “I think they were idealists and believed they were with a group that shared their beliefs and values. I think they were probably looking for security and family. Leaving a country that had killed a president and several civil rights leaders in a few years, which is very difficult to understand, isn't it? ”He said wryly.
Short of money, the Phoenix decided to return to the United States in a cargo ship. When it was time to eat, Joaquin watched as the sailors beat the fish they caught for lunch. He felt that the fish offered for lunch "had been tortured" and never tried the meat again. His parents not only respected his decision but the whole family became vegan.
Today even his dogs, Oskar and Soda are vegans and also his girlfriend, the talented Rooney Mara. The actor acknowledges that he follows a healthy diet but with some allowed. “I don't like junk food or processed foods. But I can still eat some fries or a damn sandwich. ”
But back to the story. Already installed in the United States, Mrs. Phoenix got a job with an NBC executive. River and Rain began participating in children's talent shows, soon an agent contacted them and the brothers filmed some commercials.
The boys grew up and their beauty and talent was noted. River was summoned to film "My Private World" by Gus Van Sant. It was at that time that the brothers began to share and compete – they were brothers for a reason – about their knowledge of cinema. "You have to see Wild Bull" ordered the older brother and the younger replied "Ok, but first watch all the comedies of Woody Allen."
It was while River filmed with Van Sant that something as strange as disturbing happened. They chatted in the kitchen when River suggested he be called Joaquin and not Leaf. Then he said and predicted, as the “Jocker” interpreter recalled: “‘ You will be an actor and you will be better known than me, ”he told me. My mother and I looked at each other with the face of ‘what the hell are you talking about?’. I don't know why he said that or what my brother knew about me. He had not been acting at all. But he also said it with some weight, with knowledge that seemed so absurd at the time, but of course now, in hindsight, you think: ‘How the hell did I know?’ ”
After the death of River the whole family left. They wanted to be away from the scandal and the morbidity that awoke his death. “We run away from everything. It was horrible, the newspapers … we didn't see any of that, we left. ”
The Phoenix decided to settle in Costa Rica, a country that has the motto "Pura vida". And that was what they needed, a place far from pain and where they could reconnect with life.
After a while, they returned to the United States. Joaquin did not want to act again but his friends insisted and that is how he participated in “Everything for a dream”. Then came "Circle of passions" where he met and fell in love with the beautiful Liv Tyler with whom he lived three years.
Liv was not the only one who occupied the heart of the actor. He was also a couple with Anna Paquin and the models Topaz Page Green and Teuta Memedi.
His partner has been Rooney Mara for a while now. The origins of both cannot be more different. Phoenix grew up in a family of hippies and Rooney belongs to a millionaire and powerful family linked to the most important American football franchises. He spent his childhood in different houses and countries, she in a mansion. One was surrounded by religious hippies, the other by billionaire entrepreneurs.
The actors met in the filming of the movie "Ella." At first they didn't even talk to each other, he thought Rooney hated him until he found out she was just shy. In addition, at that time he maintained a relationship with film director Charlie McDowell. Then they started a beautiful friendship, but given her shyness they communicated and told each other all alone … by mail.
But in 2016 they met again and since then they are in a couple, although not for the press. They never pose together, do not participate in red carpets, do not talk about their relationship and much less make declarations of love on social networks. Only once, after receiving an award in Toronto, Phoenix said in his speech: “Here, somewhere, I don't know where, there is a dirty dragon, and I would like to tear his wings, tie him with a blanket and sleep with him forever … I love you Thank you".
No one understood much what he said or to whom he said it, until he reluctantly explained that “dirty dragon” was the nickname with which he called his partner and was based on the character of Lisbeth Salander, of the saga “Millenium” that starred Girl.
Today Joaquín Phoenix is again the center of all eyes, but unlike so many actors it is not because of their scandals but only because of their work. Most of his creatures are lunatic beings, tortured, evil and quite twisted, of those that one would not even put as a screensaver of the cell phone. But also every time he plays a new role, the viewer feels that he is not only in front of an actor but a man who fully engages in the characters' skin. Of those artists who leave everything and stop being them to be the other.
It is true that it is complex and impossible to imagine Joaquin running for his girl in the middle of the Titanic, singing in the rain in love or being a paralytic millionaire disenchanted with life and delighted with the girl who takes care of him. But it is also true that if one wishes to see a movie that is a blow to the senses, Phoenix never disappoints. Joaquin once said that he does not understand people who "leave your ass working, win an Oscar and then take advantage of it only to make shit movies." Therefore, tortuous or not, disproportionate, cursed, beautiful or intriguing, the viewer knows that Phoenix is a guarantee of cinema and cinema of the good. It is not little for a man who at 19 received a knockout of life and yet lives to tell it. Or at least to act it.