Joaquin Phoenix was on the Late Show last night and after watching it I felt kind of sorry for him. At first I got the impression that the whole appearance was a put on, but then I could tell that he was serious and was just dealing with the situation and his own insecurity as Dave was taking the piss out of him.
Phoenix came out wearing dark glasses and didn’t say much, and Dave sort of lit into him trying to get some kind of humor out of the situation, saying “You look different than I remember you.” At one point Dave asked “What can you tell us about your days with the Unabomber?”
The most Joaquin said was that he didn’t really know why he was quitting acting or if he would go back, and that he was working on his music, which he described as “hip hop.” When people in the audience laughed at that, Phoenix asked “What do you have them on? What do you gas them up with?”
Letterman asked Phoenix when he could see his new hip hop career take off and he said he’d “love to come on this show and perform” to which Dave countered by saying “that seems unlikely.”
At one point Joaquin stuck his gum under Letterman’s desk.
Letterman joked at the end of the interview “Joaquin I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.”
You have to wonder whose idea it was to have Phoenix go on Letterman to promote his film. He may have been contractually obligated to promote it, but producers should have known better.
For comparison, here’s a link to a clip of Joaquin on Letterman three years ago telling a story about a rat in his house. And here’s a clip of Joaquin on Oprah with Reese Witherspoon, his co-star in Walk The Line. He was a little guarded, but he was funny, topical, and very honest about how he works hard to be emotionally honest and genuine in his work. Reese praised his professionalism and preparation for the role of Johnny Cash, for which he ultimately received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe. Phoenix admitted on Oprah he has never seen any of his films, saying he didn’t want it to interfere with his craft and that he was worried that he might take short cuts in his acting if he started to see the end result.
This is an incredibly talented guy who is a critically acclaimed, committed actor. Something snapped and he’s either on something, withdrawing into himself, or both.
Here are photos of Joaquin and Gwyneth Paltrow at a screening of Two Lovers in NY last night. The photo agency included a close up picture of Paltrow’s wrist to show she’s wearing a Kabbalah bracelet.