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Does Joaquin Phoenix Have Children? The ‘Joker’ Star Named His Son after His Late Brother River

Bettina Dizon
Jun 09, 2022
06:50 A.M.
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Joaquin Phoenix, who has yet to confirm reprising his role in the "Joker" sequel, is a doting dad to a toddler, River, named after his late brother. Here's more about the award-winning actor's child.


Writer and director Todd Phillips recently revealed that the "Joker" sequel is in the works and that Joaquin Phoenix has already read it.

The previous "Joker" film that starred Phoenix became a blockbuster hit, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history. It also received 11 Oscar nominations, and an Oscar win for Hildur Guðnadóttir's original score.

Joaquin Phoenix with the Humanitarian Award on behalf of Casey Affleck during PETA's 15th Anniversary Gala and Humanitarian Awards at Paramount Studios on September 10, 2005 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images


While the news had fans excited, it is still unsure if Phoenix, who won an Oscar for his performance, will reprise his role in the sequel. During his win, Phoenix said:

"I think the greatest gift that it has given me, and many of us in this room, is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless."

It was undoubtedly one of the most memorable moments of the actor's life. However, nothing can beat the monumental moment that changed his life forever, the birth of his only son.

Joaquin Phoenix during the "Walk The Line" press conference during the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival September 13, 2005 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. | Source: Getty Images



Phoenix welcomed his firstborn in 2020 with his partner, Oscar-nominated actress Rooney Mara. The couple named their son River, a tribute to Joaquin Phoenix's brother, who passed away in 1993 at 23 due to a drug overdose. He has always inspired Phoenix to do great in life.

The couple chooses to keep their personal life away from the limelight but has actively spoken about wanting a better world for their son. In a publication they penned in light of the migrant children crisis, Phoenix and Mara wrote:

"How will it feel to explain to our son when he asks us about this time and how we treated scared, defenseless children? Some of whom may never see their parents again."


Joaquin Phoenix during the "The Sisters Brothers" premiere during 2018 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. | Source: Getty Images

Having a son certainly made way for Phoenix and Mara to genuinely understand and feel for kids' welfare. According to an insider, River has "enhanced their lives more than they ever imagined and brought them closer." Although not easy, parenthood was something they happily welcomed.


Phoenix and Mara are raising River away from the spotlight and want him to follow his own path one day, whether that's in the entertainment industry or elsewhere.

Phoenix doesn't plan to enforce veganism on his son either, a practice that he has observed for a while now. "Well, certainly I would hope that [he is vegan], but I'm not going to impose my belief on my child," he said. "I'm going to educate him about the reality. I'm not going to indoctrinate with him the idea [...]."

Joaquin Phoenix during the press room of the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images


Although a vegan with limited food choices, Phoenix did not have an easy time losing weight for his role in "Joker." Mara, however, supported her husband throughout his journey for the film.


Joaquin Phoenix's wife also agrees with his parenting style. The couple met in 2012 on the set of Spike Jonze's film "Her," but it was nothing like love at first sight for the pair. In fact, the award-winning star was convinced that Mara did not like him.

It wasn't until 2017 that they debuted on the red carpet as a couple. Neither party spoke about their relationship, but their body language was enough to note that they were in love. Two years later, engagement rumors surfaced as Mara was seen with a beautiful diamond ring on her left hand.


Joaquin Phoenix during the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

The couple has since kept mum about anything wedding-related. Nevertheless, it is evident that they are truly, deeply, and madly in love with each other.