Joaquin Phoenix has been involved in acting and performing for almost the entirety of his life.
Growing up, he and his siblings, most notably his late brother River, dedicated their time to street performances so that they could provide for their family; their parents and four sisters.
Joaquin made his first major film debut in 1989 at the age of 15 for the film Parenthood, where he starred alongside huge names like Steve Martin, Keanu Reeves and Dianne Wiest. His brother River, however, made his big breakthrough three years prior in the Stephen King adaptation film Stand By Me.
Four years after Joaquin’s big debut, though, he and River went out to a club in Los Angeles where River would end up dying in front of his brother from a drug overdose. Joaquin was particularly close with his late brother, having always supported each other’s success in Hollywood and never making it a competition.
“We were a team, and whoever was working, well, that was great,” Joaquin said about his and River’s relationship. “We’re always supportive of each other. There wasn’t [any] competition. We just didn’t have that competitive streak in us the way we were raised.”
Almost thirty years later, Joaquin continues to carry on his brother’s legacy, even naming his only son with finacee and fellow actor Rooney Mara after the late acting prodigy.
However, Rooney has not once looked at the household in which they raise their son as the typical Hollywood “two-actor house”, rather a “creative household”.
“It doesn’t feel like a two-actor house because I didn’t work for the first three and a half years we were together,” she explained on a January episode of the LaunchLeft podcast, hosted by Joaquin’s sister Rain. “Basically since we’ve been together, I only worked one or two times and one was really small and short. It feels like a creative household, we’re constantly talking about creative things.”
Rooney and Joaquin met in 2012 on the set of the film Her. They later started dating and got secretly engaged in 2019, per People. In 2020, they welcomed their son River.
Being new to motherhood, Rooney was lucky to have scored a role in the 2022 film Women Talking where she was able to get advice from her co-stars who are also actresses with kids.
“I was able to get advice from Claire [Foy] and Sheila [McCarthy] and Judith [Ivey] and all these moms that I was working with, and River was there on set all the time, in the green room,” she said. “It was a very idyllic situation, it probably won’t happen like that again.”
She continued to explain that she had always envisioned herself being a mother, coming from a big family herself.
“My mom had four kids by the time she was 27. So I was like, by the time I’m 25, I’ll be done. I’ll be ready to stop being so selfish. And then I was 25, and I was like, ‘No,’” she admitted.
Instead, it took ten more years for her to have a family of her own and she couldn’t be happier.
“I love [motherhood]. I love it so much. I think it’s the best thing in the world,” she gushed. “I mean, it sounds so cliché when you talk about it, but things are cliché for a reason. I also have a very privileged life.”
“Motherhood is very challenging, even when you have a privileged life,” she added, noting that she is fortunate to be able to raise a child without many worries of a steady income.
“I’m so lucky that I have the choice to get to be with [River] most of the time,” she explained, having taken some time off from acting for a bit. “That I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to work once a year if something feels right and other than that, this is what I’m doing.’ Most people don’t have that option.”
I’m sure their son will grow up in a house that is very supportive of his choices and creativity, as well as a life where he knows who he has the privilege of being named after. This Halloween will be thirty years without River being around and I’m sure Joaquin sees and thinks about his brother in his son every time he looks at him.