The Millionaire Joker: How Joaquin Phoenix Made It Big In Hollywood And Grew His Millions

Joaquin Phoenix was used to performing in front of people from a young age. After he moved to the United States with his parents and four siblings as a child, he started showcasing his skills at talent shows. With his older brother River, the actor worked in commercials and made his acting debut in television shows. His career took off during the mid-90s when he starred as the lead and supporting actor in a string of commercially and critically successful movies. After taking a short hiatus after 2010 and returning to the big screen, he received his much-awaited Oscar in 2019 for playing the comic-book villain in the 2019 thriller Joker.

Phoenix has worked in 55 films to date and has amassed a $55 million fortune as an actor, producer, and musician. As the actor actively pursues his cinema roles, his net worth expands.

Developing As A Young Actor

During the early 1980s, Joaquin Phoenix made cameos and guest appearances in shows and movies while his brother had begun his successful career. The actor was only 19 when his 23-year old brother River Phoenix died from a drug overdose in Hollywood in 1993, as noted by The Guardian. Affected by his death, the actor didn’t work for two years until his comeback in the movie ‘To Die For’ that starred Nicole Kidman. In 2000, he starred in Ridley Scott’s blockbuster hit Gladiator which genuinely established him as an up-and-coming actor and earned him an Academy Award in the Supporting Actor category.

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The same year, he also starred in the critically acclaimed movie Quills, where he beat actors like Guy Pearce and Jude Law to grab the role of Abbé du Coulmier. His performance was highly appreciated, and the actor made $375,000 as a salary. After working in Buffalo Soldiers for a $700,000 salary, he starred with Mel Gibson in M. Night Shyamalan’s commercial successful movie Signs, where he made $1 million. In comparison, the movie collected $408 million at the box office. His second Oscar-worthy performance occurred in 2005 when he played Johnny Cash in the movie Walk The Line, which was his entry into the Mainstream Cinema. Along with an Oscar nomination, he was paid $3.5 million to play the lead role.

A Short-Lived Break From Cinema

After working in We Own The Night and Two Lovers, Phoenix took a break from cinema and decided to make music, a passion he shared with his brother River and sister Rain. According to Britannica, he produced music and directed videos for various artists during his time off acting. Phoenix made a comeback in 2012 with the movie The Master, which Paul Thomas Anderson directed. His performance as a tormented alcoholic earned him a lot of praises and the award for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival.

He starred as Theodore in the science fiction romance movie Her, directed by Spike Jonze. While the movie was indie, the director raised a $23 million budget and paid Phoenix a little over $2 million to play the introvert. Jonze decided to cast him in the movie after watching his late-night show appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, where his style assured him that he was perfect for the role, as stated by GQ. He went on to work with Woody Allen in the 2015 movie Irrational Man where he was paid roughly $6,030 and $20,928. Allen is famously known to pay actors minimum wage salaries every week.

A Role He Was Meant To Play

After earning the award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for the 2017 mystery/drama You Were Never Really Here, Todd Phillips offered him the role that soon became synonymous with his name, Joker. With engaging trailers and the mystery behind the plot, Joker was destined to be a box-office hit.

When the movie hit the theatres, it shattered records to become the highest-grossing film at the box office in 2019, earning over $1 billion. Phoenix’s portrayal of the complex character that he portrayed with utmost dedication earned him an Academy Award in the Best Actor Category. As mentioned by The Things, the actor was paid $4.5 million for the titular role that made a clean sweep at the awards season. As Joker made a significant impact on the box office and fans are waiting for its sequel, Warner Studios is offering Phoenix his biggest payday to date, $50 million to star in two sequels for the movie. While there are no dates announced yet, people are eagerly waiting to see him reprise the role of Arthur Fleck.

Joaquin Phoenix has had a remarkable career that has spanned over three decades. His anxiety-driven acting and complex characters keep everyone glued to the screen. The actor recently starred in the 2021 black and white drama C’mon C’mon, and he is reported to star in Ridley Scott’s 2023 historical drama Kitbag.

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Sources: The Guardian, Britannica, GQ, The Things

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