Joaquin Phoenix is a well-known method actor who took a lengthy hiatus from his craft between 2008 and 2012. Phoenix emerged from his break more prolific than ever, and the actor is currently working on his fifth film since his recent comeback began. In 2012, Phoenix returned to Hollywood with his role as Freddie Quell in "The Master," a surreal independent film about a young veteran who returns from the war shaken and without direction. Quell is given guidance by the charismatic authority figure behind a strange and cult-like movement known simply as the Cause. "The Master" received plenty of praise from critics and independent film lovers alike, marking a successful return to acting for the enigmatic Phoenix.
Next in the line of Phoenix's recent films is the 2013 period drama "The Immigrant." Phoenix played Bruno Weiss, a deceptive tyrant who forces a young woman into prostitution after she becomes dependent on him. Sonya is new to the tough life on the Manhattan streets, and Bruno seems like a dashing knight who can save her from all her troubles. In reality, he is a cunning and manipulative psychopath who uses her to achieve his own ends. Phoenix delivers one of his most dramatic performances yet in "The Immigrant," proving that he has the depth to play not only the mysterious hero but the cruel villain as well.
"Her" is one of Phoenix's most recent performances and is certainly the one that has generated the largest amount of buzz. In "Her," Phoenix plays Theodore, a reclusive and socially inept writer who purchases a computer that is designed to serve as his personal assistant. He names the computer Samantha and quickly develops an attachment to her. Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, is charming and disturbingly real. Samantha is programmed to be the most sophisticated artificial intelligence available on the market, and she seems to genuinely care about Theodore's life. At first, she encourages him to explore the possibilities outside the confines of his home, such as going on a blind date and reconnecting with his ex-girlfriend. As the film progresses, so does the relationship between Theodore and Samantha.
Unlike other films that have toyed with the idea of a man falling in love with an artificial woman, "Her" takes a whole new approach to the concept of artificial intelligence and what it means to be truly human. Samantha seems as real as any other woman to Theodore except for her lack of a physical form. As Samantha becomes more involved in Theodore's life, she begins to question what it feels like to be real, and express the desire to become human. The film has no perfect ending or convenient twist, and both Theodore and Samantha are forced to deal with the cruel reality of their situation. As Theodore falls for a woman who may or may not be more than complex algorithms and circuits, he must question whether the love he feels for her is any less real than what he feels for the tangible people in his life. "Her" is a brilliant and truly novel film that has critics talking long before its November 2013 release.
Scheduled to premiere shortly after "Her," "Inherent Vice" is another one of Phoenix's recent acting projects. The actor's role as Doc Sportello will take him in a decidedly different direction. Doc is a drug-addicted detective who finds himself charged with the unenviable task of investigating the disappearance of his own girlfriend, Hope. Phoenix's character has been shrouded in some considerable mystery, but audiences can count on a dramatic film if director Paul Thomas Anderson's previous directing credits are any indication.
Phoenix's most recent project is called "Prism," a police drama that follows the story of an investigator who decides to bring down a notorious businessman and drug dealer known as Reynaldo Guzman. Phoenix is rumored to have Guzman's role, which marks his second recent performance as a villain. The actor will star opposite James Franco, who plays the detective out to claim Guzman's life.
Joaquin Phoenix is back on the acting scene with a vengeance, and his recent role choices have proven his love for dramatic films. Phoenix is beloved by fans in numerous genres, and his vastly different roles demonstrate his wide range and adventurous spirit. From a befuddled writer who falls for a computer to an underworld fiend, Phoenix is constantly testing his abilities and taking on new risks as an actor, which makes watching him on the big screen all that more enjoyable for fans.