The untold truth of Joaquin Phoenix's siblings

Actor Joaquin Phoenix is known for pulling off some pretty quirky parts, including a computer-infatuated loner in 2013's Her and the twisted Arthur Fleck in 2019's Joker –  the latter earned him an Oscar for best actor. Maybe part of the reason Phoenix is so comfortable in outside-the-box roles has something to do with the decidedly unconventional way he and his four siblings were raised. 

Joaquin, whose brother, River Phoenix, died of an overdose at age 23, has three sisters: Rain, Summer, and Liberty. The Phoenix family, which was part of the Children of God cult, traveled a lot before putting down roots in Los Angeles. According to The Guardian, parents Arlyn (aka Heart) Phoenix and John Bottom were "flowers-in-their-hair hippies" who had their kids busking on the streets for cash and who connected them with Hollywood agents at an early age. 

Joaquin is the best-known member of the Phoenix family these days, but he's just one of the talented siblings in this tight-knit and resilient family. Together, they have transformed tragedy and grief into activism and service. This is the untold truth of Joaquin's siblings.

Rain Phoenix is honoring her late brother through music

When it comes to levels of Phoenix fame, Rain Phoenix, whose birth name is Rain Joan of Arc Bottom, is fairly recognizable. It probably doesn't hurt that she looks a lot like her younger brother, Joaquin.

Rain was forced to grow up fast, in part because she was there with Joaquin the night their brother, River, overdosed in 1993. She talked about his death in a 2011 interview with The Guardian. "Of course there is a sadness with not seeing him in the physical world but everything I do, he is a part of." 

Rain is a talented musician who joined River's band, Aleka's Attic, at the age of 16, per The Guardian. After his death, she completed all of his unmixed songs. "And that was hugely healing -– just spending that time listening to my brother. After I finished, I didn't feel the need to release the music. It was enough," she said. 

In 2019, Rain found herself in a very different place, releasing an entire album, titled River, on the 26th anniversary of her sibling's death. "Now I feel a sense of joy to share my brother with others," she said. "But it's taken a long time to get here."

Summer Phoenix bought a house with Joaquin

Like her older siblings Joaquin and Rain, Summer Phoenix is no stranger to the spotlight. The actress and singer tied the knot with actor Casey Affleck (pictured) in 2006. They starred together in a U.K. theater production called This Is Our Youth in 2002, and according to E! News, "the devoted vegans brought awareness to various environmental charities, including PETA."

The pair stuck together for about a decade, but separated in 2016 and divorced in 2017, per E! News. Despite the split, Summer and Casey have reportedly done their best to co-parent their two children, Indiana and Atticus. "Summer is and always has been an amazing mother," Affleck told Us Weekly. "She's loving and fun and the boys worship her, so I think that even in our differences, she and I have found a nice balance."

After her divorce from Affleck was finalized, it appears that Joaquin may have helped his sister get back on her feet because he reportedly bought a house in Los Angeles with her in 2018. According to The Blast, the siblings don't actually live together, but both of their names are listed on the paperwork for the 1903 "craftsman home, loaded with charm." 

Liberty Phoenix promotes peace and green solutions

Of the Phoenix family siblings, Liberty Phoenix Lord has skirted the Hollywood spotlight the most, but like her siblings, she's working on behalf of charitable endeavors on a global scale. 

According to PopSugar, Liberty serves as the office manager for the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding. The charity organization was founded by Liberty's mom, Arlyn (aka Heart) Phoenix, and stepfather Jeffrey Weisberg. According to its website, the center organizes programs, training, and events and also lobbies to help promote peace worldwide. 

In addition to helping with her family's charity, Liberty founded IndigoGreen Building Solutions, an eco-friendly building supplier in Gainesville, Fla. That endeavor was also launched in the wake of tragedy. The store takes its name from that of Liberty's son, Indigo, who died in his nursery at a young age due to toxic outgassing from building materials. 

River Phoenix continues to inspire his siblings

The closely-knit Phoenix clan endured unimaginable hardship at a very young age when River Phoenix overdosed outside of Johnny Depp's Viper Room on Halloween night in 1993. The 23-year-old star had already made a name for himself in flicks such as Stand By Me and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. River's death was attributed to a drug overdose. Biographer Gavin Edwards suggests that River was unaware that a drink he consumed at the Viper Room contained a dissolved speedball of cocaine and heroin. It was Joaquin Phoenix who reportedly called 911 when River began "convulsing on a Sunset Boulevard sidewalk" after leaving the club, per LA Weekly.   

No matter the circumstances surrounding River's untimely death, he continues to impact his siblings' lives, and he shared their devotion to charitable causes. A 1989 story in The New York Times noted that an 18-year-old Phoenix "does not wear animal skin on his back, at his waist or, most of the time, on his feet. And he has been a vegetarian since he was 8 years old." He said at the time: "Environmental concerns are top on my list. If we don't heal the earth, we're gone."

River's words still inspire his family. When Joaquin won an Academy Award for Joker in 2020, he quoted a lyric River wrote at age 17. The lyric reads, "run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow."