Take Five: Joaquin Phoenix.

walk the line

I meant to include this in my column last week to go along with , but switched for technical reasons to a Scarlett Johansson story instead. But waste not, want not…

From his child-actor days when he was best known as Leaf (and as the younger brother of the late River Phoenix), Joaquin Phoenix has blazed an unusual career trail for himself. Prior to Her, here are the actor’s best performances:

To Die For (1995): The actor stood out in his first “grown-up” role, a supporting turn as a high schooler seduced into murder by Nicole Kidman’s sexually rapacious small-town siren.

Gladiator (2000): Phoenix earned his first Oscar nomination as Commodus, the venal Roman emperor who craved the love of his people – and hated Maximus (Russell Crowe), the military hero who had that love.

Buffalo Soldiers (2001): In this little-seen war satire, Phoenix played against type as a cynical opportunist who turns an Army career into a lucrative black-market empire. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival just days before the Sept. 11 attacks of that year, and its anti-military themes subsequently kept it from a wide release.

Walk the Line (2005): Joaquin roared as Johnny Cash – with sublime support from Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash – in one of the best musician biopics ever made.

The Master (2012): Paul T. Anderson’s indie epic polarized audiences, but critics raved over Phoenix’s turn as an aimless World War II veteran who is drawn into a quasi-religious cult led by a charismatic Philip Seymour Hoffman.

(IMAGE: Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.)