Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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There are 3 entries for this date: Matt Smith , Joaquin Phoenix and Elsa Lanchester
Matt Smith

Matt Smith

On this date in 1982, actor Matt Smith was born in Northampton, England. Smith originally intended to be a soccer player, but after suffering from career-ending back injuries and advice from his theater teacher he turned to acting instead. He joined England's National Youth Theatre and went on to study creative writing and drama at the University of East Anglia. Smith is most famous for his portrayal of the eleventh reincarnation of The Doctor on BBC's “Doctor Who,” the longest running science fiction show in history. Smith was the youngest actor to play The Doctor, but most fans and critics responded positively to his performance. He has received many honors and awards for his work including a nomination for a BAFTA in 2010 for his work as the leading actor in “Doctor Who.” He has also appeared in the BBC's adaptations of Philip Pullman's “The Ruby in the Smoke” and “The Shadow in the North.” He had a major role in BBC's “Party Animals,” a political drama.

Matt Smith is active in BBC's two charities, Children in Need and Sports Relief, which help children and vulnerable people respectively. Smith is known as a very curious and enthusiastic person, and has expressed strong interest in history and physics.    

“I recently read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, which ignited my interest in a scientific, mathematical version of the world. No, I'm not religious. At all. I'm an atheist."

—Matt Smith in Dec. 3, 2011 Guardian interview with Euan Ferguson

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix

On this date in 1974, Joaquin Phoenix was born to Children of God missionaries in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His family, while traveling throughout Central and South America, became disillusioned with Children of God, which the media referred to as a cult, and left the group when he was a small child. At age four, his family, which included siblings River, Rain, Liberty, and Summer, moved to Los Angeles where the Phoenix children sang and played music regularly, and eventually gained small roles on television. Joaquin's film debut was "SpaceCamp" (1986) but he landed his first successful role in 1989, in the Ron Howard film, "Parenthood." While his brother, River, was becoming a hot new star in Hollywood, Joaquin decided to leave the business, at age 15, and travel around Latin America. At 19, Joaquin was by 23-year-old River's side as he died of an overdose outside a Los Angeles night club.

Joaquin achieved great success in the 1990s with films such as "To Die For" (1995), "Inventing the Abbotts" (1997) and "Return to Paradise" (1998). His most critically acclaimed roles occurred in the next decade, with his Academy Award-nominated role as Commodus in "Gladiator" (2000), Mel Gibson's brother in "Signs" (2002), a reporter in "Hotel Rwanda" (2004) and the lead in "The Village" (2004). His most famous role, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe award, was playing country music legend, Johnny Cash, in "Walk the Line" (2005). After this portrayal, Joaquin had successful roles in "Reservation Road" (2007) and "Two Lovers" (2009). A lifelong vegan like his brother River, Joaquin has been a spokesperson for the Lunchbox Fund, which provides healthy meals to needy children, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Outspoken about his atheism, Joaquin told the Sunday Times (UK) in April 1999, "I'm not into organized religion . . . For me, I believe in a God of whatever my own thing is."

“I don't believe in god. I don't believe in an afterlife. I don't believe in soul. I don't believe in anything. I think it's totally right for people to have their own beliefs if it makes them happy, but to me it's a pretty preposterous idea.”

—Joaquin Phoenix, Nylon Guys magazine, Winter 2008

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Elsa Lanchester

Elsa Lanchester

On this date in 1902, unorthodox actress Elsa Lanchester was born In London. Young Elsa studied to be a dancer under Isadora Duncan, then turned to acting as a teenager, debuting in films in 1924. Routinely described as a "dedicated nonconformist," Elsa married Charles Laughton in 1929, with whom she had an unorthodox marriage. Her splashy American debut was as the "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935). She played Anne of Cleves in "The Private Life of Henry VIII" (1933). Her many other films include: "Lassie Come Home" (1946), "The Spiral Staircase" (1947), "The Big Clock" (1949), "Come to the Stable" (1949), "Les Miserables" (1955), "The Glass Slipper" (1958), "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957), "Bell, Book & Candle," "Mary Poppins" (1964), "Pajama Party" (1965), "That Darn Cat" (1968), "Murder by Death" (1976, playing "Miss Marbles"), and "Die Laughing" (1980). She wrote the book Charles and Me (1939) and her autobiography, Elsa Lanchester Herself (1983). Ultra-religious actress Maureen O'Hara, in her own autobiography, mentions twice in that book that she disapproved of Elsa Lanchester because Elsa did not believe in God. D. 1986.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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