Directed by Gus Van Sant, the film was screened out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and became a financial and critical success, resulting in a domestic box office total of million.New York Times critic Janet Maslin praised Phoenix's performance, writing "So pity poor Jimmy. Phoenix with a raw, anguished expressiveness that makes him an actor to watch for, Jimmy is both tempted and terrified by Suzanne's slick amorality.The film was well received by critics and grossed 6 million worldwide.

In Los Angeles, his mother started working as a secretary for NBC, and his father worked as a landscaper.

Phoenix and his siblings were eventually discovered by one of Hollywood's leading children's agents, Iris Burton, who got the five children acting work, mainly doing commercials and television show appearances.

During his period as a child actor he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, his self-given name.

He later went back to his birth name, Joaquín, and received positive reviews for his supporting work in a wide range of films, most notably in the film adaptation of the novel To Die For (1995) and the period film Quills (2000).

Three days after Joaquin's 19th birthday, Joaquín's older brother River suffered a fatal drug overdose on October 31, 1993.

Joaquín's call to 911 seeking help for his brother was repeatedly played on radio and television.Aside from his acting career, he has also ventured into directing music videos, as well as producing films and television shows.He has recorded an album, the soundtrack to Walk The Line, for which he won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media. 1964) from a previous relationship of his father's.Phoenix's first acting jobs were guest appearances on two television shows with his brother River in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982), and Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984) as well as an episode, "We're Off to Kill the Wizard" in Murder, She Wrote with his sister Summer.In 1985, he appeared with in the CBS television movie Kids Don't Tell.To this date, he and River Phoenix hold the distinction of being the first and only brothers to be nominated for acting Academy Awards.