10+ Facts About Joaquin Phoenix Fans Didn't Know

As you may have already heard, it was a big week for Hollywood icon, Joaquin Phoenix, and his wife Rooney Mara. The pair welcomed their first child and named him River, in honor of Joaquin's late brother.

So, in celebration of that, here are a few little-known facts about him that fans probably did not know!

1. He prefers to make movies, not watch them.

While speaking with Interview Magazine, Joaquin revealed that he is much more interested in the craft of making a movie than he is in watching movies.

He compared it to a magician, explaining that magicians focus on refining their own skills rather than going to other magician's shows.

2. He doesn't believe that acting is something that can be taught.

"For as long as I’ve been making movies, I really don’t know a lot of the technical side. I mean, I’ve actively and consciously tried to avoid learning that stuff," he told Interview Magazine.

"I just want to be open and receptive to what’s happening in the moment, and I don’t want to force anything. Dishonesty is so ugly on film. You just act, and it’s so ugly, and I don’t want to do that. I mean, everything that they teach you when you’re a kid about acting is completely [expletive] wrong."

"They tell you to memorize your lines, follow your light, and hit your marks. Those are the three things that you shouldn’t do. You should not learn your lines, you should not hit your mark, and you should never follow your light. Find your light—that’s my opinion."

3. He once walked out of an interview after being asked a very disturbing question about *Joker*.

Shortly after the release of Joker last September, Joaquin walked out of an interview with The Telegraph's film critic Robbie Collin, after he asked him whether or not he thinks his role in the film might inspire mass shootings.

4. His family used to be a part of a religious cult.

Back in 1977, Joaquin and his family were aboard a cargo ship bound for Miami from Venezuela. His parents had just uprooted their lives after leaving a notorious religious cult, the Children of God.

When they finally arrived to start their new life, they were out of touch with regular society and had very little money to their name.

5. He recalls the first toy he ever received.

Joaquin recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair the first "new" toy he was ever gifted. It was on his fourth birthday, his first birthday since his family had left a religious cult.

“I vividly remember this cake, and I think it was probably the first cake that I ever had, like a proper cake. I remember the toys. I had never gotten a new toy before, and really the most jarring and intense memory," he said.

6. He was born with a scar on his lip.

The famous scar on Joaquin's lip has been assumed by most of us to be the result of some kind of accident or surgery.

But turns out he was actually born with it!

7. His singing and guitar skills haven't improved much since *Walk The Line*.

When asked by Phase9 TV how his singing and guitar practices have been since filming Walk The Line, Joaquin replied:

"Shameful. It is the strangest experience. I have done three and a half months prepping for that film, and I have never felt so inadequate in my life. It's been quite a journey."

"I have a much greater deal of respect for singers. It is incredibly vulnerable to go out there in front of a large number of people and sing."

"I also have a respect for people who lip-synch to their singing because it's very difficult to do. We are doing live singing and playing and some to playback. I don't know how it's going. I'm a terrible judge of myself."

8. He is a major animal rights activist.

After witnessing a fish die when he was a child, he has been radically advocating for animal rights as a spokesperson for PETA.

Just at last year's Oscars, he gave a speech encouraging viewers to reconsider even putting milk in heir coffee.

"I think whether we're talking about gender inequality or racism, or queer rights, or indigenous rights, or animal rights, we're talking about the fight against injustice," he said.

"We're talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, on gender, or one species has the right to dominate, use, and exploit another with impunity."

“I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world,” he went on.

"And many of us — what we're guilty of, is an egocentric world-view. The belief that we are the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives first we steal the baby, and then we take her milk that’s intended for the calf and we put it in our coffee."

9. He is a vegan.

As an animal rights activist, it's really no surprise that Joaquin avoids all animal products.

Even on movie sets, he refuses to wear any fabrics that were taken from animals and demands synthetic costumes only.

10. He enjoys working with directors that he's unfamiliar with.

While speaking to Interview Magazine, Joaquin revealed that he is often more inclined to work with directors that have managed to stay off of his radar thus far, rather than ones that he is already acquainted with.

11. He changed his name when he was four years old until he was 16 years old.

While Joaquin's birth name is, in fact, Joaquin, for a period of his life between the ages four and 16 he went by the name "Leaf" — he was even credited in a few films under that name.