Rooney Mara Talks Parenting With Joaquin Phoenix in a “Creative Household”

Getty / Amy Sussman

Rooney Mara always knew she wanted to be a mom. In a Jan. 3 episode of the “LaunchLeft” podcast, the actor spoke about her experience with motherhood and parenting in a “creative household” with her partner, Joaquin Phoenix. On wanting a family from an early age, she said, “My mom had four kids by the time she was 27. So I was like, by the time I’m 25, I’ll be done. I’ll be ready to stop being so selfish.” Mara, who is now 37, added, “And then I was 25 and I was like, ‘No.'”

Mara and Phoenix welcomed their first child together in August 2020, naming him River Lee after Phoenix’s late brother, River Phoenix. So far, Mara is loving motherhood. “I love it. I love it so much. I think it’s the best thing in the world,” she said. “I mean, it sounds so cliché when you talk about it, but things are cliché for a reason.”

“Motherhood is very challenging even when you have a privileged life.”

Mara also took the time to acknowledge her privilege and the flexibility her job offers. “I also have a very privileged life,” she said. “Motherhood is very challenging, even when you have a privileged life, and I’m so lucky that I have the choice to get to be with him most of the time. That I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to work once a year if something feels right, and other than that, this is what I’m doing,'” Mara said. “Most people don’t have that option.”

Having a fellow actor for a partner has also been unexpectedly rewarding. “It doesn’t feel like a two-actor house because I didn’t work for the first three and a half years we were together,” Mara said. “It feels like a creative household, we’re constantly talking about creative things.”

The couple also found time in recent years to launch a production company, Valentine Pictures, which recently helped to produce Jonah Hill’s documentary, “Stutz,” about his therapist, Phil Stutz, whom Phoenix shares. “He changed Joaquin’s life,” Mara said, adding that Stutz is the reason why she and Phoenix have never left Los Angeles. “That’s why we’re living here, because Phil Stutz is here.”

When asked if she had grown up with a crush on Phoenix, Mara replied, “I didn’t have posters of him on my walls.” She said, “When I first met him, it was in the hair and makeup trailer for ‘Her,’ and I sat down next to him, and he was like, ‘You can call me Nighthawk.'” Mara added, “So I don’t know if I had a crush on him . . . I think I was a little more confused by him than anything.”

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