The Danish magazine "Se og hØr" september 6th 2002
I am insecure
Joaquin Phoenix is a workaholic, but terrified whenever he is going to start on a new role
Joaquin Phoenix was born in Puerto Rico where his american parents were working as missionaries. He was number 3 out of 5 children. River and Rain were the oldest and Liberty Butterfly and Summer joy were the youngest. As 6 years old, Joaquin wanted a "nature" name, so he named himself Leaf, later he changed his mind and took Joaquin as his name again.When he was 6 years old, the family moved to L.A. where the children were encouraged to use their creativity. They got their own agent very fast and got a lot of roles in commercials just for anything else then meat, milk and junk food. Everybody in the family were vegans and Joaquin, now 27 years old, still is. As a teenager he decided tostop the career simply because he did not think the roles he were offered were good enough. But in 1993 he once again came in the media's spotlight unfortunately because of a tragic experience. His brother River died of an overdose outside a night club in L.A. Joaquin was there and had to call for an ambulance. That lost was very devastating for Joaquin, and he decided to start on the acting career again, because it would have made River happy. You can see Joaquin Phoenix in the cinema in the new thriller "Signs" starring Mel Gibson.
Tell us about your character in "Signs"!
He is the kind of guy that would have beaten me up in "High School" for having tofu in my lunch box. Later I believe that we could be friends though.
How was it to work with Mel Gibson?
He is the perfect mixture of a gentleman and a criminal. Friendly and generous as an actor, but when I came back in my trailer really exhausted, the doorknob to my trailer would be greased with vaseling. he is funny but also serious. I felt very secure when it came to working with him. He has an energy that makes you believe in yourself.
Did he make any other jokes?
There was one shot where I had to be under the staircase, and he had to come down and say something and go through a door. I was sitting under the staircase waiting. Suddenly all the lights went out. I refused to react on it and just sat there for about 25 minutes before the lights where turned on again and he came down and said his line like nothing had happened.
Is it true that you always think you never will get through a role?
Yes every movie I make is like the first movie. I am terrified. When I did the first scene with Mel Gibson I spoke way too fast and was very nervous. Mel calmed me down and said "We have a wonderful director who never would let us go home before this scene is perfect. believe in it , and don't worry so much."
Are you a workaholic?
Yes I have to admit that. When the camera is rolling it is like a magical feeling for me. I am in a different world and cannot be hold responsible for anything. When I am working at home I am starting to get a bit nuts. I am at home most of the day, go swimming, reads manuscripts and play backgammon. the last couple of years i have kind of been working none stop without any breaks, so I guess it is about time to relax a bit.
Are all your sisters actors as well?
liberty is the only one that is not. She is in a country band. All 4 of us are very confidential towards each other. Summer Joy lives in the same building in New York as I do.