Joaquin Phoenix (born October 28, 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico), once also known as Leaf Phoenix, is an Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe Award-winning, Puerto Rican-born, American actor.
He often plays supporting roles as conflicted, insecure characters with a dark side. Phoenix is a devout vegan. He has stated on numerous occasions that he has never watched any of his performances on screen.
Upon being cast as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line after Cash himself approved, Phoenix responded by buying a guitar and learning how to play. He spent several years practicing in-character as Johnny Cash before principal photography, including voice and guitar lessons, and mimicking Cash's personae. In 2006, he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar, and won a Golden Globe in the same category, for his portrayal. Reese Witherspoon, who portrayed June Carter Cash in the film, stated during an interview that when they first performed in-character before a live audience, she was so impressed with his impersonation that she knew she "had to step it up a notch". Indeed, all of the vocal tracks in the movie and on the accompanying soundtrack are played and sung by Phoenix and Witherspoon.
The scar on Phoenix's lip is popularly believed to be the result of a repaired cleft lip. However, he has stated in interviews that his mother, while pregnant with him, felt a sharp pain one day and he was born with a scar on his lip. The birth scar is a microform, almost taking the form of a cleft, as the tissues just reached far enough to join up. If the bone and muscle tissues joined correctly no surgery or cleft repair is required.