Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Joaquin lines up as Oscar hopeful

Actor Joaquin Phoenix has landed an Oscar nomination for his role as the late Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk The Line.

Critically-acclaimed roles as dark, conflicted, insecure characters have helped the 31-year-old actor climb steadily up the Hollywood ranks.

And his recent best actor Golden Globe win along with the Oscar nod has confirmed him as one of Tinsel-town's big hitters.

Phoenix was born in Puerto Rico, in 1974, while his off-beat missionary parents were travelling through South America.

Full profiles of the main Oscars contenders

The middle-child out of a brood of five, the family returned to the US when he was just six-years-old.

Creativity and talent shone from the children at an early age, and it was not long before his older brother and sister - River and Rain - began carving out acting careers.

Walk the Line (2005)
Ladder 49 (2004)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
The Village (2004)
It's All About Love (2003)
Signs (2002)
Buffalo Soldiers (2001)
Quills (2000)
Gladiator (2000)

Phoenix followed his siblings into acting - taking on the "earthier" name Leaf - appearing alongside River in two TV shows, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982) and Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984).

Big-screen parts beckoned with roles in Space Camp (1986), and Russkies (1987), and he went on to firmly establish himself as a child actor in Parenthood (1989), with Steve Martin.

But Phoenix put his flourishing acting career on hold to go travelling in Mexico with his father in 1990.

After a tentative return to acting in 1991, his professional and personal life was to be dealt a blow on 31 October 1993 when River collapsed from a drug overdose outside LA nightclub The Viper Room and later died.

Phoenix, who witnessed the collapse and made the 911 call, was devastated.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line
Witherspoon was nominated for a xxxx for her role as June Carter

But within months he was reading scripts again and reverted his name back to Joaquin.

In 1995 he landed the role of an obsessive stalker in Gus Van Sant's To Die For, with Nicole Kidman.

But it was the Roman epic Gladiator (2000) that would confirm Phoenix as a Hollywood star.

Playing the selfish, paranoid young emperor opposite Russell Crowe's heroic soldier, earned him critical acclaim and a supporting actor Oscar nod.

It also role opened the door for more big-movies.

The Napoleonic era film Quills, with Kate Winslet and Geoffrey Rush as The Marquis de Sade, followed.

Best actor winner:
Hollywood Awards
Golden Globes
Best actor nominations from:
Screen Actors Guild
Satellite Awards

And he also starred in M Night Shyamalan's Signs (2002), with Mel Gibson, and The Village (2004).

Other films under his belt have included Hotel Rwanda and Ladder 49 with John Travolta.

Phoenix stars alongside Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line, which chronicles the turbulent life of country music legend Johnny Cash, from his early days on US cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis.

And Phoenix's own life has continued to have its lows.

In April he voluntarily checked into a rehabilitation clinic for treatment for alcohol abuse.

And he hit out at sections of the media who claimed he had a breakdown after becoming upset while filming a scene about the death of Cash's brother Jack.

They claimed it was the death of River that prompted the breakdown.

But Phoenix said: "I don't need to pull from my experience for a character, and I've never understood why actors would, except for lack of ability, imagination or research."


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