What’s different about Joaquin Phoenix besides his cleft lip?

It’s not just his ‘facial difference!

Smiling man with scar running from upper lip to his left nostril

Joaquin Phoenix and his trademark scar.

Denies his Cleft Lip

Actually, Phoenix has created controversy about his lip. He says something–but not a “cleft”–just happened when his mother felt pain at one point during her pregnancy. (Fellow actor Stacey Keach “owns” his cleft.) If “something happened to Phoenix’ mom, this had to have been around the 6th week when most cleft lips and palates form. Many doctors feel that his famous  scar is from a microform cleft lip, also known as a “forme fruste.” Microform clefts are the mildest version of a cleft lip–essentially, they’re incomplete cleft lips.Unlike most cleft lips, the nose is usually normal with a microform cleft deformity.

Changes his name

Born Joaquin Rafael Bottom on October 28, 1974, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Phoenix changed his first name to Leaf at age four to more closely match his sibs’ nature names, River and Rain. Later on his family liked the name change idea and changed everyone’s last name to Phoenix, to symbolize their rebirth after leaving a cult.  After some early screen credits using Leaf as a child actor, Phoenix changed his name back to Joaquin. (He made appearances on TV’s “Seven brides for seven brothers,” “Hill street blues,” and “Murder she wrote.”)

Refuses to watch his performances

According to insiders who’ve provided some of the info for this blog, Phoenix “refuses to watch any of his completed films. Even when he appears on a talk show and the host plays a clip of the film, the actor admits that he tries his best to ignore it and look the other way.” Could it be residual shyness due to early static about the microform cleft on his upper lip?

Has never married

Phoenix  seemed so close to Reese Witherspoon in “Walk the Line” which details, among other things, Johnny Cash’s relationship to prisoners and prison life. And he absolutely fell for Scarlett Johansson’s  voice in “Her,” but in real life he’s only come close to marriage once. That was with Liv Tyler in the 1990s. He found her genuine and very real. Allegedly they were engaged.

Hates cruelty to animals

He’s a vegan and requests faux leather garments from “wardrobe” when on set, according to sources for this and other Phoenixiana.

Not too keen on cruelty to humans, either

Huffington Post has reported Joaquin Phoenix is a board member of the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding.


Do any of these facts  surprise you?  If not, I promise you’ll be surprised by the secret facts I reveal in my next post.

To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.


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