Joaquin ‘Leaf’ Phoenix

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on July 2, 2006

In the movie Parenthood, there was a young actor named Leaf Phoenix who looks a lot like actor Joaquin Phoenix. Are they related?
—Rhonda Caswell, Cleveland, Texas

Actually, Leaf and Joaquin are the same person. He was born Joaquin (pronounced Wah-KEEN), the middle child of five. But when his show-biz siblings took names of earthy elements like River and Rain, he decided to change his to Leaf while raking the yard one day. In Parenthood, Phoenix was indeed Leaf, but the actor reclaimed his birth name in the 1990s before appearing in Gladiator, Ladder 49, The Village, Hotel Rwanda and, most recently, portraying Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor.