Joaquin Phoenix FactsGetty

Joaquin Phoenix's life is as unique as the characters he plays onscreen.

The actor has been working on and off since the early '80s, though it wasn't until his star turn opposite Russell Crowe in "Gladiator" (2000) that Phoenix became a household name. Since then, Phoenix has turned in a string of unforgettable performances, most notably his incredible portrayal of Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line" (2005).

Whether or not you've had a chance to see Phoenix fall in love with a computer in this year's Oscar-nominated "Her," there's still much to know about the established star. From his unusual upbringing to his music videos, here are 17 things you probably don't know about Joaquin Phoenix.

1. The actor was born in 1974 and is the third of five children: River (b. 1970), Rain (b. 1972), Liberty (b. 1976), and Summer (b. 1978).

2. His parents were members of the religious group the Children of God, leading to a unique upbringing for Joaquin and the other Phoenix children. Due to the group's extensive traveling, Joaquin was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

3. The actor's parents became disenchanted with the Children of God and, in 1978, returned to the U.S. During this time, they changed their family name to "Phoenix" to represent a new beginning.

4. Joaquin is the younger brother of late actor River Phoenix. Joaquin made the call to 9-1-1 when River tragically overdosed outside The Viper Room in Los Angeles.

5. His first onscreen role was in the TV show "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" in 1982.

6. Frustrated by the lack of quality roles for teen actors, Phoenix took a hiatus from acting following the production of "Parenthood" (1989).

7. Prior to his hiatus from acting, Phoenix was billed as "Leaf Phoenix." It's rumored that he was influenced by his older siblings, River and Rain, to have a nature-related name.

8. The actor has been nominated for three Oscars, but has no wins to date. In 2006, he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor (Comedy or Musical) for "Walk the Line."

9. His sister, Summer, is married to actor Casey Affleck.

10. Phoenix has directed music videos for "She Wants Revenge," "Albert Hammond Jr.," "Silversun Pickups," and others.

11. In January, 2006, Phoenix drove off a Hollywood canyon road, flipping his car. Coming to his rescue was none other than famed German film director Werner Herzog, who broke the back window of Phoenix's car and pulled the actor out of the wreckage. Herzog then quickly left the scene and returned to his home nearby.

12. Phoenix dated actress Liv Tyler for nearly three years in the 1990s.

13. The scar on the actor's lip is a birth mark.

14. In 2009, Phoenix announced his retirement from acting and claimed he was going to become a hip hop artist. During the following months, the actor appeared completely disheveled and aloof for public appearances, giving the impression he had genuinely become disillusioned by the film industry. Turns out, it was a grand hoax constructed along with brother-in-law Casey Affleck for what became the mockumentary "I'm Still Here" (2010).

15. His father was born in California, while his mother was born in New York to an Ashkenazi Jewish family that emigrated from Eastern Europe.

16. Stemming from his childhood, the actor is a strict vegan and even refuses to wear leather for any role. Supposedly, Phoenix wouldn't wear shoes for a Prada photo shoot because they were made out of leather.

17. Joaquin and River Phoenix are the first brothers to be nominated for Academy Awards in acting categories.
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categories Movies, Trivia