Joaquin Phoenix: Rooney Mara is ‘the only girl I ever looked up on the internet’

The Goldfinch red carpet premiere at TIFF 2019

Before reading the Vanity Fair cover story, I just looked at this photo of Joaquin Phoenix for a while. I know he’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but back in the day, I was really into him. Basically, everything from To Die For to Gladiator was my absolute favorite Joaquin. My crush subsided significantly after that, but this cover shot really brought it back. So vulnerable, so beautiful. Sigh… now let’s get to the cover story, where Joaquin is promoting Joker. Joaquin might end up with an Oscar nomination for Joker, and the film might inspire incels to murder people. So… it’s complicated. So is Joaquin’s life, from spending the first years of his life in a cult to the death of his older brother River to where he is now in his life: pretty happy and loved up with Rooney Mara. You can read the full piece here - Joaquin only gives these kinds of interviews once every ten years, so enjoy it.

On the critical reaction to Joker: “I didn’t imagine that it would be smooth sailing. It’s a difficult film. In some ways, it’s good that people are having a strong reaction to it.” Phoenix mostly wants to let the film speak for itself. “There’s so many different ways of looking at it. You can either say here’s somebody who, like everybody, needed to be heard and understood and to have a voice. Or you can say this is somebody that disproportionately needs a large quantity of people to be fixated on him. His satisfaction comes as he stands in amongst the madness.”

On his CV full of intense drama: “From a very young age, I had an allergy to—what’s the word?—to just frivolous, meaningless kids’ stuff. From an extremely young age. And I don’t know why. I’m sure you want some Freudian explanation, perhaps there is.”

His dogs: He’s in the kitchen boiling a pot of sweet potatoes for his vegan dogs, Oskar and Soda, the latter a large white pit bull mix he rescued from euthanasia 13 years ago. Soda has an allergy to direct sunlight, which means she must be kept out of the sun from nine to five. Phoenix bought her a specially made suit to go to the beach. “She looks so f–king cool but she doesn’t like it,” he says.

He researched Rooney before they got together: He believed Mara despised him during the making of Her but later learned she was just shy and actually liked him too. “She’s the only girl I ever looked up on the internet. We were just friends, email friends. I’d never done that. Never looked up a girl online.”

He’s still vegan: “I eat really healthy. I don’t really like junk food. I don’t like processed foods. Right? But I still can—like, I’ll f–ck up a bag of chips. Like a f–kin’ Subway sandwich and sh-t.”

River Phoenix tutored him on films: “My brother came home and he was like, ‘We need to watch this movie called Raging Bull.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ Prior to that, I watched Caddyshack and Spaceballs. And Woody Allen comedies. He suggested I change my name [back to Joaquin] and then, I don’t know, six months later, whatever it was, we were in Florida, we were in the kitchen, and he said, ‘You’re going to be an actor and you’re going to be more well known than I am.’ Me and my mom looked at each other like, ‘What the f–k is he talking about?’ I don’t know why he said that or what he knew of me at the time. I hadn’t been acting at all. But he also said it with a certain weight, with a knowing that seemed so absurd to me at the time, but of course now, in hindsight, you’re like, ‘How the f–k did he know?’ ”

River’s death isn’t the “Rosebud” of his life: “It’s one, it’s one of the Rosebuds but it’s not a Rosebud in the way that people think. At all.”

He hasn’t spoken to Casey Affleck in years: He hasn’t spoken to Affleck “in many years,” he says. “My sister and him divorced. And I haven’t spoken directly to him or indirectly in a long time. Three or four years.”

[From Vanity Fair]

What’s weird is that, bizarrely, it feels like Joaquin is really playing the Hollywood game, but he’s figured out a way to do it on his terms. He even ends on a positive note, saying that the difficult work is “what sustains me. I enjoy it. I love my life. I f–king love my life.” Does Joaquin really want to do an Oscar campaign? Probably not. But he made a studio movie about a famous villain, so he’s playing the game and if he ends up with an Oscar nomination, so be it. Anyway, there’s tons of stuff in that interview which I couldn’t even fit in these highlights – he talks more about “understanding villains” and how his family ended up in the Children of God cult and more. One thing I’ll say is that I sort of genuinely think he’s cute with Rooney.

Photos courtesy of Vanity Fair.

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53 Responses to “Joaquin Phoenix: Rooney Mara is ‘the only girl I ever looked up on the internet’”

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  1. Maria says:

    Used to love him so much, now I cannot stand him. He’s a pretentious ass who pretends to be a delicate flower and I’m sick of his shtick.
    Dogs are not meant to be vegan.

    I also wanted to punch him for the part of the interview when the interviewer uncomfortably pointed to his lunch of fish and Phoenix said “do your thing, some people just aren’t as evolved…enjoy your swastika”. (Eyeroll)

    • I agree! He is doing his dogs a grave disservice…they are natural carnivores and need meat in their diets. His constant use of profanity is disgusting, too. Zero class and totally pretentious. He must have graduated from the Gwyneth Paltrow School for Phony Snobs.

      • Kebbie says:

        They’re actually omnivores, not carnivores.

        There’s a good article on it here:

        “Compared to true carnivores, dogs produce more of the enzymes needed for starch digestion, have much lower protein and amino acid requirements, and can easily utilize vitamin A and D from plant sources, just as people do. We also have evidence that they also evolved from wolves by eating more plant material. All of these factors make them more accurately classified as omnivores than carnivores.”

        It goes on to say that dogs can be healthy and vegan, but it has to be done under the guidance of a professional and their diet has to be carefully designed. Hopefully they’ve consulted a veterinary nutritionist.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Yeah comparing eating fish to a swastika is PEAK elitist vegan bs.

    • Jillian says:

      He’s abusing those dogs

  2. vanna says:

    vegan dogs … jfc I like him less and less the more I hear about him

  3. Becks says:

    I hate to admit this, but he looks dreamy on that cover!

    • Ann says:

      I think he looks fine as hell.

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      I thought this was Phil Dunphy from Modern Family

    • Lizzie says:

      i agree – it is beautiful. he’s aging very well and i’m glad he’s found happiness. i’ve watched inventing the abbotts about one million times. i can’t help it.

      this press tour is a huge mess though and a lot of it sits on todd phillips. i kind of hate that for him b/c he seems proud of his work in this and pumped to promote it.

  4. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I used to be a fan of his work and I still think he’s a great actor. But he will forever be side eyed for his complicity in what went down between Affleck and the women who worked on their film. Not only did he know about it but he also participated with him cheating on his sister. Like how f-cked up is that?! I dont care if he and Affleck dont speak anymore. Joaquin got off scott free with what went down during the filming of that movie and that’s not okay. Additionally he and Todd Phillips’ behavior and comments during the press tour of this film is gross and the epitome of white male privilege.
    Also – dogs are CARNIVORES. Unless your dog has an specific medical reason why they shouldn’t eat meat they NEED meat in their diet. People need to stop imposing human diets on animals.

    • VirgiliaCoriolanus says:

      Dogs aren’t carnivores–that’s cats. Dogs do need protein-heavy diets though. I used to make dog food for my mini English bulldog.

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        You’re right – they are omnivores. I misspoke. However I stand by statement about how he is feeding his dogs. Imposing a vegan diet on a dog is utterly ridiculous.

      • SamC says:

        My neighbor is vegan and so is her happy, healthy, goof of a dog. My neighbor worked closely with her vet to make sure her pooch was getting all the nutrition needed from puppyhood into adulthood, which is the key. It’s a tight neighborhood and we all keep vegan treats on hand for the pooch too, and when the pack is running around they all snarf down the vegan treats just as quickly as they snarf the regular ones.

    • Lukwesa says:

      Yeah, people straight up seem to have forgotten about his sleazy behaviour with Affleck.

  5. Jegede says:

    On his CV full of intense drama: “From a very young age, I had an allergy to—what’s the word?—to just frivolous, meaningless kids’ stuff. From an extremely young age. And I don’t know why. I’m sure you want some Freudian explanation, perhaps there is.” –

    This quote is why I don’t rate him, or DDL.😶

    They are revered amongst their peers, but to me both are predictable performers with limited range.
    There is almost no levity, or subtlety to their performances.
    It’s predictably heavy, dour, or intense.

    That school of “I’m suffering for my Art! Can’t you see I’m suffering for my Art?”!!!🙄🙄🙄

    • Kaiser says:

      Yes, he’s trying to pretend he never made a movie called Space Camp. Which is actually one of my favorite movies of his.

      • OriginalRose says:

        I love that film too. I love how the red braces/suspenders wrap round him like 20 times when he does the space walk

    • Amelia says:

      I wouldn’t put DDL in that category. I think there’s a lot of subtlety and levity in Phantom Thread. And one of my favorite DDL performances is A Room With a View where he’s basically the comic relief.

  6. OriginalRose says:

    Yeh I used to have a massive crush on him around the To Die For years but this article really kills my ladyboner. Vegan dogs? Give me strength

  7. Lightpurple says:

    So, he didn’t know her family owns two storied NFL teams?

  8. Ann says:

    His siblings and him had a profoundly messed up childhood so it’s nice to hear that he loves his life. He is weird but in a healthy way. I like him. I like him with Rooney. Their relationship makes a lot of sense.

  9. Maria says:

    Also let’s not forget when he was 40 and dating a 19 year old. He’s attractive but creepy.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Rooney Mara is 34. A whole grown woman. I dont like Joaquin but Im not going to knock him on that because it’s inaccurate and Rooney is a grown woman in her 30’s.

      • Maria says:

        I’m talking about Allie Tielz, who he dated when he was 40 and she was 19. And it was still weird, even if who he is dating now is age appropriate.

      • Tiffany says:

        The girlfriend before Rooney was 19 when they started dating. I remember that, I think she was a DJ, right?

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        Yeah that IS gross…but considering what we know about his shenanigans with Affleck…not surprising.

      • Amy says:

        OP was obviously not talking about Rooney…

  10. Anna says:

    Actually dogs are omnivores, not carnivores and they can be healthy on a vegetarian diet but it has to be carefully formulated..Joaquin and his wife are rich so they can afford the best food. Cats are obligate carnivors.

    • ChicagoAudrey says:

      +1 thanks Anna. Only cats need to eat meat. Dogs don’t.

    • Maria says:

      It can be done, but the room for error is so great that it’s usually not appropriate – and plenty of high-profile veterinary nutritionists would say that it’s not a great idea even if it’s doable. And just because they have the wealth to formulate it carefully doesn’t mean they do.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      But WHY would you impose your dietary restrictions onto an animal? I don’t get it. Dogs may be able to live without meat but why should they have to?

      • LadyLawyer says:

        If you one is concerned about climate change, an animal lover, or opposed to factory farming due to the animal cruelty, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to perpetuate that cruelty to feed their pets. I avoid dairy and meat aside from wild-caught fish, and considered a similar diet for my dog. It is too much work for me, so I try to thoughtfully source my dogs kibble. Some dog food has remnants of race horses and domestic pets in it. My cat (an *actual* obligate carnivore) gets only raw, organic, free-range meats. It’s actually weirder to me that (at least with parts of the dog kibble) I’m supporting animal cruelty to have a pet for pleasure. Other cultures eat dogs really similar to mine, that have been farmed in really horrific conditions, and people in the US don’t eat dogs, but think nothing of feeding their dogs animals that have been subject to cruelty. Yeah, it’s cruel to feed any dog a diet where it isn’t thriving, and that shoy *not* be done, but I don’t think it’s the vegans here who are being cruel with their dog food choices.

  11. Chaine says:

    I guess I think veganism is a choice. Given the choice, the dogs will probably eat meat.

  12. Eenie Googles says:

    So you were “allergic” to lightheartedness from a young age or you “loved Caddyshack and Spaceballs.” Which is it?

    He just says things he thinks sound interesting. This man has no idea who he is.


  13. Tiffany says:

    The more I look at Joaquin, the more I miss River. I truly think about what his career would be like if he was still here.

    • ChillyWilly says:

      Me too. I loved River so much. He had a gentle, sweet way about him. And so beautiful. I think Joaquin is a good actor but never found him sexy except in
      Signs. All of his other roles skeeve me out. I can’t understand the comments about him being hot in To Die For or Gladiator.

  14. Hmmm says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one that’s no longer falling for his B.S.

  15. Beepers says:

    VEGAN DOGS? Nope. That just noped me right the hell out. I had zero issue with him before I read that and now I can’t stand him.

  16. ooshpick says:

    Couldn’t love him more. One of the finest actors of our time. Who cares if he’s annoying?

  17. Alexis says:

    I really respect Joaquin’s work and talent, but I will never understand people who talk about eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle all whilst being a heavy smoker. River was the same way (miss that man ❤).

    I hope he is being advised on how to feed his dogs a vegan diet so that they’re getting enough protein.

  18. I had to go back and stare at the cover and I still can’t find the hot, I just see a giant dose of smug.

  19. girl_ninja says:

    A healthy vegan lifestyle? Don’t both he and Rooney smoke cigarettes? So much pretense.
    He does look good on that cover tho.

  20. DS9 says:

    He does look really good in the cover shot. That bit of gray suits his face.

  21. Meg says:

    The biggest sign he’s campaigning for an oscar to me is him distancing himself publicly from Casey Affleck. Instead of no comment etc. He’s usually very private so he’s campaigning. They were close since bennifer 1.0 days

  22. Em says:

    It’s funny how people here are saying he’s abusing his dogs. What do you think about Hindus with dogs in India? Their owners are NOT feeding them meat (red, white, fish- it’s all meat). The dogs live healthy normal lives. I’m an Indian American and Hindu, but not vegetarian. Please try to be informed and educated, for all those thinking they’re otherwise enlightened.

    • Alexis says:

      He’s not abusing his dogs. He adores them, why else would he want the same for them as himself. There are just different dietary requirements for dogs.