The actor "was uncomfortable with the way that he was living his life," says his rep

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 13, 2005 08:00 AM
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Gladiator and Ladder 49 actor Joaquin Phoenix checked into an undisclosed rehabilitation facility for treatment of alcoholism two weeks ago, his publicist said on Tuesday.

“He was uncomfortable with the way that he was living his life and found the courage to deal with the disease,” said a statement from his Los Angeles-based publicist, Susan Patricola. No further details were provided.

The next screen role for Phoenix, 30, will be hard-living musician Johnny Cash in the upcoming screen bio Walk the Line, in which he costars with Reese Witherspoon.

Joaquin’s brother, River Phoenix, who was a young star, died of a drug overdose in 1993 at age 23. After following in River’s footsteps as a child actor, Joaquin – who went by the first name “Leaf” in early movies including 1989’s Parenthood – took a break from show business.

At only 15, Joaquin trekked through Central America by himself. “I was young enough that I wanted to explore…to grow,” said Phoenix, who was born in Puerto Rico and grew up traveling around in a motor home with his missionary family.

Joaquin returned to acting in the 1991 short film Walking the Dog, but then again went on hiatus: After River’s death, Joaquin took time off before playing Nicole Kidman’s teenage lover in 1995’s To Die For.