Joaquin Phoenix goes on Letterman to apologize, gets schooled

Joaquin Phoenix went on David Letterman last night for the first time since his disheveled mumbling appearance in February, 2009. A clean-shaved and initially arrogant-looking Phoenix explained that he cooked up the scheme with Casey Affleck to stage a public breakdown and film it as “we wanted to do a film that explored celebrity and explored the relationship between the media and the consumers and the celebrities themselves.” Letterman wanted to make it clear that he had no idea that it was a stunt when Joaquin was on the last time. Joaquin offered a half-assed apology while maintaining that Letterman should have known something was up. “You’ve interviewed many many people and I assume that you would kind of know the difference between a character and a real person, but I apologize. I hope I didn’t offend you in any way.”

Dave then ribbed Joaquin about the fact that they used a full five minutes from his disastrous interview with him in the film without licensing it at all. He said his lawyers contacted the lawyers for the film and were told that it was “fair use” as it was a documentary. Now that it’s known that the film isn’t a documentary, “you owe me a million dollars,” Dave quipped. He seemed genuinely annoyed that Joaquin duped him and got so much publicity and footage out of it. Joaquin said “We’ll work it out, but can we talk about it privately?

We’ll go to one of your screenings,” Dave deadpanned.

I got the feeling that Joaquin was eating crow in an attempt to sell the film, but that his heart just wasn’t in it. Casey admitted a few days ago that the movie was a hoax and that he went broke personally financing it. It’s been a royal flop and has only taken in $259,000 since it was released two weeks ago, and now these two must be desperate. Maybe Dave let Joaquin on again so the film could earn enough money to pay him the licensing fees he thinks he’s owed. Fat chance with that.

Casey Affleck was on Leno earlier this week and he admitted that “neither Joaquin or I talked to Dave” ahead of that interview in February. He said “I told [Paul] Schaffer, but he’s not going to tell anybody.” He also said that no one called to ask how Joaquin was doing back when many people assumed his “Bye Good” act was legitimate. “You know, I never got calls. It’s weird… afterward, the movie comes out, the critics like to say ‘this is crazy, this is disturbing, this is sick.’ But while it’s happening, people were happy just to mock him and make fun of him.” It’s not like Casey was bitching about it, though, as Leno asked him specifically if anyone was concerned back when we thought Joaquin was crazy.

Casey said that he truly thought that everyone who watched the movie would realize that it was a put on by the end. It looks like no one is seeing it, hence the confusion.

Here’s Casey’s interview with Leno. In the second video below there’s a clip from the film at the point when there’s 1:00 left. Diddy seems so nice to me.

Joaquin on 2/11/09 and 3/8/10. Credit: Fame Pictures


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52 Responses to “Joaquin Phoenix goes on Letterman to apologize, gets schooled”

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  1. geenie says:

    I think it’s brilliant how Joaquin punk’d Letterman with the mumbling. He actually had everyone punk’d. I think the movie flopped because of the sexual harassment incident with Casey and because Casey confessed that it was all fake. Casey should have kept his mouth shut until after the movie was released for a couple of weeks.

    I’ll probably rent the movie when it comes out on DVD.

  2. JohnnyDepp'sgirl says:

    What a weird bunch of crap!

  3. vic says:

    They both overestimated interest in Phoenix, crazy or otherwise. And to go broke over this crap is pretty stupid. Bet there was a little wacky weed smoking.

  4. Praise St. Angie! says:

    “But while it’s happening, people were happy just to mock him and make fun of him.”

    Yeah, Casey, you dumb f*ck, because WE ALL KNEW IT WAS FAKE.

    man, I love it when pretentious a-holes are called out.

    EDIT: geenie, I disagree. I am one person (among many, I’m sure) who didn’t buy even one second of this whole thing from the get go. he actually had very few people “punk’d”, which is why the film isn’t doing well, and isn’t going to do well. has nothing to do with the sexual harassment issue. people do and have done much worse and people still see their films.

    when Casey Affleck announced that it was all scripted, there was a resounding “DUH!” from America.

  5. vibius says:

    Wow this really was a bad idea. 1 guy bankrupts himself and the other turns himself into a punch line. Wonder if they think it was worth it.

    I left the question mark out on purpose.

  6. geenie says:

    @ Prairie

    I disagree with you. I think many Americans were trying to figure out if this was fake or if Joaquin was heavily on drugs and just flipped. It was sorta a weird mystery without any confirmation.

  7. Greg B. says:

    Out of morbid curiosity, I saw I’M STILL HERE last weekend (with only three other people in a huge theater), and I can’t recommend this obnoxious, rambling, unshaped piece of junk to anyone. The only interesting parts were Phoenix’s meetings with Puff Daddy, who tactfully but bluntly told Phoenix that he needed to make a serious (financial and personal) investment for his “rap” career to have a shot at success. Other than that, it was a waste of seven bucks.

  8. Rachum says:

    Now we know for sure he’s back to hot, I suggest a hot guy Friday inclusion for the delectable Joaquin!

  9. OMJ says:

    Uhm, no offense Rachum, but no. No hot guy Friday for either Phoenix or Affleck. They have ruined it. They “killed it and let it rot in the trunk of a car for 6 months” kind of ruined it.

    Personally, I wouldn’t waste bandwidth on illegally downloading the movie.

  10. citmyway says:

    I think it’s actually witty! I like when someone thinks outside of the box and does something different. That is art. However, I do agree geenie and think they should have waited until later to confess it was a hoax! I think it would have made a difference in the film gross. As far as him going broke to make film, sometimes people invest big in something they believe in. Casey probably thought this would earn him money and credit for being original….

    Whatever, I can’t wait to see it

  11. LOVE ANGELINA says:

    Yay I am with Rachum love Joaquin sooo much and maybe some Justin Long to, Please. Please. lol

    I am so glad it was fake I didn’t want Joaquin to be a jerk, he still might be a jerk, and doing drugs. Screw David Letterman, big cheating jerk, it certainly got his show more publicity, is he really upset they tricked him. I doubt it.

    I didn’t think their film would make that much money. It was released in so few markets, I certainly wanna go to a theater and see it. Don’t know. I wanna see it though.

  12. RHONYC says:


    what was that jibberish he was sayin when diddy wouldn’t record his album.


    then again…in ny, you could copy the meanderings of a nutty homeless guy in the subway, film it and call it ‘art’. so… 🙂

  13. GatsbyGal says:

    I think most people knew this movie was fake and simply thought the idea was stupid. I don’t believe that enough people are into Joaquin Phoenix, and when he “went crazy”, no one was interested. Was he on drugs, was he insane? Who cares, it’s Joaquin Phoenix. I might have had my doubts, but the second I learned Casey Affleck’s camera crew wa following him, I knew it was all staged. I’m not retarded, it was transparent.

    Joaquin Phoenix has run his career into the ground. He’ll never be a big name again. He fancied himself Andy Kaufman, flew too close to the sun, and welted his wings off.

    @citmyway and LOVE ANGELINA – You’re both dead to me.

  14. Rachel says:

    Anyone who actually bought this is an absolute idiot. It was so obviously fake.

  15. a says:

    i’m probably not going to see it because of the hookers, the coke and the poop.

    plus, the sexual harassment does not help.

  16. Statler says:

    Gotta love Dave.

    That is all.

  17. kiko says:

    who cares about this stupid film…the one thing that matters is that Joaquin Phoenix looks normal and hot again 😉

  18. coconut says:

    i think they both handled themselves very well. i didn’t note any arrogance from joaquin…he actually seemed appropriately squirmy in parts.

  19. im awful says:

    douchey and douchier.

  20. LittleFATMe says:

    This was a dumb ass idea that they (mostly Affleck) are paying for. To be honest I am glad it’s a put on because I adore Joaquin Phoenix and would like to think he is sane when we meet and marry. 🙂

  21. Majosha says:

    “However, I do agree geenie and think they should have waited until later to confess it was a hoax! I think it would have made a difference in the film gross.”

    No, it wouldn’t have made a difference. Because everyone knew it was bullsh*t from the start. Well, nearly everyone.

  22. Shi-gatsu says:

    Yes yes yes~ Joaquin (old school) for hot guy friday!

  23. Jeri says:

    Their explanation is stupid. No one asked how he was cuz they knew he was “acting.”

    Now they are trying to make it sound artistic when it was just a pile of crap, “in or out of Joaquin’s mouth.”

  24. Anoni Mus says:

    @ LittleFATMe: LOL and totally agree with your post.

    Bad idea, worse execution, and yet one of the things I love Joaquin for is exactly his uniqueness, he’s definitely slightly out there.

    Nevertheless, I third or fourth the request for him on HGF. Love him!

  25. Stephy2185 says:

    O.M.G. LOLS at Andy Bernard!

  26. Crash2GO2 says:

    Screw him. I was frightened for him – I was stupid enough to actually CARE about the guy and thought he had slipped into schizophrenia. He is a VERY good actor, so those of you who say you knew right away he was hoaxing, I say bullshit. He was that good – because I know schizophrenia and he had done is research.

  27. Anna says:

    This looks as staged as the first time.

  28. Kloops says:

    I’m in the camp of those who believed this to be a mockumentary from the get-go (and said/posted so). Why would people who think it was pretentious crap express concern for his well being? The only thing that does surprise me is that Letterman claims he was hoodwinked. Huh. Who knew? But his most recent interview with Phoenix was amusing.

    I’ll see this mockumentary eventually but not in the theatre. It’s not worth that much committment.

  29. Bee says:

    Joaquin Phoenix is the diet soda version of Andy Kaufman. Bland, strange, and not nearly as satisfying as the original.

  30. Crash2GO2 says:

    “Why would people who think it was pretentious crap express concern for his well being?”

    Not following you Kloops. I only saw it for pretentios crap AFTER I knew it was a mockumentory.

  31. lu says:

    In the interview Joaquin said that everyone has seen the movie, I wonder if he was being sarcastic, or he doesn’t know that the film is doing bad.
    I kinda felt sorry for them not making enough money, but then i remember that they are still rich.

  32. citmyway says:

    I adore Joaquin so I read everything I could find on him during his “going crazy stage” and not ONCE did I read ANYONE in any comment say this was all a hoax. All of a sudden now everyone is saying they knew all along it was phony. Now everyone but us few disillusion people knew it was a sham. Quiet bizarre how that works, huh…….

  33. theresa says:

    What a lying, untalented, annoying, arrogant, a$$hole Affleck is! Also, that creeper, (I absolutely believe the woman who is suing him), lost any, even remotely, physically attractive features he had decades ago. Ick, ugh, eww.

  34. Annabelle says:

    LoL LittleFATMe you will have to wait until I divorce him 🙂 He is DELECTABLE!

  35. Praise St. Angie! says:

    citmyway, you must not have read any of the posts on this site, then.

    look at the archives on this site of any post tagged “Joaquin Phoenix”.

    you will find posts from over a year ago, about this whole issue, where a whole lot of comments were of the notion that it was all fake.

    EDIT: Crash, it wasn’t really that Phoenix’s “acting” was bad and that’s why people knew it was fake. it was the whole idea of it, it just seemed bogus. plus, if your brother was having a meltdown like that, would you let your husband film it, or would you intervene? there were just too many things that pointed to a hoax, for me, at least.

  36. geenie says:


    I totally agree with you. At first, MANY people didn’t know if it was a hoax or not, but now that the cat is out of the box, all of a sudden, people are claiming they knew it was a hoax the whole time. Yeah, aha, sure. People can be so phony.

    ….and I DID read comments on this site and on other sites and MANY people had no clue if this was fake or not.

  37. Mingo says:

    I’m glad they did it. I hoped it was fake. The volatile media response during and after has been fascinating. Letterman is probably angry that he was fooled. He needs royalty money like he needs another sexual harassment charge. I respect Phoenix and Affleck more for doing it.

  38. Shay says:

    I can’t get over the fact that Joaquin took more than a year off his ‘normal’ self to do this and pulled it off.

  39. Ruffian9 says:

    “I think the movie flopped because of the sexual harassment incident with Casey and because Casey confessed that it was all fake.”

    I’d say it’s because nobody gives a s**t.

  40. Ruffian9 says:

    also…”hot guy Friday inclusion for the delectable Joaquin!”

    Please don’t. Please please don’t.

  41. Diva says:

    I just have to respect Phoenix’s dedication to his art, honestly. Whether you’re jumping on the “I knew” bandwagon now or not, you cannot deny that every single gossip AND most news sites could not figure out what was REALLY going on. And he dedicated himself to this new idea, be it good or bad, of doing something, completely for a good year.

    I also didn’t think he was the least bit arrogant last night. I thought he was rather humble, in fact, for the whole deal, especially toward Dave. He took the barbs from Letterman, even when they were especially harsh, with pretty exceptionally good nature.

    All that said… he WASN’T bringing the hotness like he used to. Sad.

  42. Granger says:

    Is it just me, or did anyone else think Joaquin was on something in that Letterman interview? He’s really slurring his words. Or maybe he always sounds like that, I don’t know.

    I used to think there was something hot about him, but now he just looks tired and pasty.

  43. Aspie says:

    I’m so glad Joaquin is hot again…yum, yum, yum!

    Hot Guy Friday addition, please!

  44. Praise St. Angie! says:

    “….and I DID read comments on this site and on other sites and MANY people had no clue if this was fake or not.”

    and I never said that EVERYBODY thought it was a hoax. the poster was claiming that “not ONCE did I read ANYONE in any comment say this was all a hoax” and I simply pointed out that there were plenty of posters who did.

    yeah, there were people who were fooled, but there were also people who weren’t.

    and, frankly, the people who were fooled, and were honestly concerned for his mental well-being have MORE of a reason to be pissed than those of us who smelled it from the beginning.

    the whole thing was just lame and wound up back-firing on them.

  45. syffitf says:

    What the crap happened to Joaquin’s face? He was way hotter with the beard, even. Poor dude’s aging like a fine milk.

  46. Jag says:

    Thank you for covering this, Celebitchy! I didn’t want to give the ratings a boost by watching him, and knew that y’all would do a good job covering this story.

    I think the reason that no one was calling to ask if Joaquin were okay is that many people were trying to figure out if it were a hoax or not. It’s their own fault. Hopefully, not many more people will go to see it; their lame “joke” shouldn’t be making money, imo, because there shouldn’t be any question of offering if a celebrity seems to be having a breakdown, and this was crying wolf.

  47. jemshoes says:

    Well I’m one of those who got punk’d by this! I really did think Joaquin was mentally ill / having a breakdown. But I’m not bitter or angry that this was all fake. So what if it was? At least now we know Joaquin is more or less OK (I mean by Hollyweird standards) …!

  48. Madison says:

    He also said that no one called to ask how Joaquin was doing back when many people assumed his “Bye Good” act was legitimate
    Why did he think anyone would call. Hollywood is and always has been a shallow town full of shallow people who only want to know you when your famous, winning awards, winning at the box office. Nobody in Hollywood cares or wants to know you when they think your a has been, just ask Lindsay Lohan.

  49. citmyway says:

    thanks geenie!! It’s nice sometimes to know that someone shares your thoughts on a subject, cheers

  50. bappi says:

    Both Joaquin and Casey have this smug look on their faces that I can´t help but get the feeling they are huge douches. I really dislike them

  51. daluraemoviegoer says:

    Hoax or not, welcome back, Joaquin. Do a film like Walk The Line again. Brilliant with Reese there 😉

  52. Ally says:

    Well, they acted this thing out in front of the pappers and other media for months. Who would shell out to see the same vanity footage all over again (with extra scatology)? It’d be like paying to see Lindsay Lohan reenact the last 3 years.

    It’ll probably get some cult value once it’s out on DVD. Casey Affleck came out of this whole thing the worst, though. (Maybe the hoax was Joaquin dragging Casey into a financial disaster as revenge on Phoenix’s sister’s behalf?)