When Joaquin Phoenix took on the role of Jesus in the new film “Mary Magdalene,” he did many of the expected things: Grew long hair, adopted an intense and otherworldly stare, even meditated on a mountaintop.But there was one thing he would not do.Near the beginning of “Mary Magdalene,” which opened Friday in the United States, the script called for Jesus to heal a blind woman by rubbing mud in her eyes, an echo of John’s Gospel. (It’s a blind man in the Bible, a blind woman in the film.)”I knew about that scene from the Bible, but I guess I had never really considered it,” Phoenix told CNN in a recent interview.”When I got there, I thought: I’m not going to rub dirt in her eyes. Who the f*!# would do that? It doesn’t make any sense. That is a horrible introduction to seeing.”The Bible doesn’t fully explain why Jesus used mud or clay to heal the blind, though some experts say it was a common practice among first-century healers.In “Mary Magdalene,” Phoenix decided to go with his gut, licking a mudless thumb and gently rubbing the woman’s eyes.”It freed me up, in some ways, to discover what is truthful in the moment,” he said. “That moment is not so much about a real miracle. It’s about someone who has been dismissed by society finally being seen, embraced and encouraged to join the broader community. To me, that is a miracle. There’s something profoundly beautiful about that sentiment.”That humanistic message captures the essence of “Mary Magdalene,” a film that aims for historic fidelity in some respects, but whose emotional and intellectual currents are radically contemporary.

Read more at CNN.

The actor, known for his roles in movies such as Gladiator and Her, said it would be “tragic” if modern movements don’t ensure women’s achievements are remembered in the future. But, he added: “It’s about who’s in power, right?”

Phoenix was speaking to Newsweek about his role in biblical drama Mary Magdalene, released in theaters April 12 and on demand April 19. Phoenix plays Jesus Christ, a role he was initially hesitant to take. In the end, the untold story of an apostle falsely remembered as a sex worker won him over.

To prepare for the role, he said he focused on Christ as a man and a teacher, not as an impossibly famous religious figure. “I feel like everybody that achieves a certain level of notoriety of fame gets warped [into a caricature],” he said. “I think it’s a disservice, definitely in this case.”

Like director Garth Davis (Lion) and co-star Rooney Mara (Lion, A Ghost Story), he was shocked by the story depicted in the film; that Mary Magdalene was not the sexualized character often imagined—a prostitute, or even Jesus’ wife, if you’re a fan of Dan Brown—but a witness to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

“In America, we don’t acknowledge the profound effect Mary and these other unnamed women [who attended the crucifixion] had upon this radical, rebellious, f***ing awesome, kick-ass movement,” he said. “When I heard about that I started thinking, literally how could we not know about this?”

Commenting on the Gospel of Mary—an early Christian writing, rediscovered in 1896, that many scholars believe concerns Mary Magdalene—he said: “Why was Mary’s book not included in the Bible? The stench of blatant sexism becomes, you know, inescapable.”

Read more at Newsweek.

Original Source: theplaylist.net

*A tiny-ish spoiler* that comes up at the beginning of the film that we need here for context. The audience learns that Charlie, Phoenix’s character, killed their father when they were children. It’s, in many ways, a tiny blip in the film, but to the actor, this informs everything.

This movie is funny and entertaining, but I’m really drawn to the very subtle undercurrent of emotion that slowly coils up around you and takes hold so affectingly in the last act. The brothers’ relationship is so complex. Is that what sort of drew you to the material? 
Yeah, that one element was the really interesting dynamic because so much of it is—there’s a love between, but much of it is fueled by resentment and guilt. There’s this event: killing your father at such a young age and [my character] being the youngest. That changed the course of their lives.

There’s something really powerful about that. It’s strange. On one level, there’s this resentment that I had to do this event that traumatized [my character]— although Charlie wouldn’t have the language to understand that concept, right? But on the other hand, it’s the thing that has given Charlie power and power over his brother Eli in a way he doesn’t fully understand. But he doesn’t want to give that up either and the reason that he’s so cruel to Eli. Charlie always wants Eli to feel stupid and less than, and that allows him to stay in a position of power. And sadly, that’s mostly because Charlie doesn’t want him to leave.

Charlie needs their dynamic to stay exactly how it is and that there’s something really interesting about that for me as an actor And I think for Riley, his character has the guilt of being the older brother, but not the protector that should have killed the father himself. That’s thrown their relationship off balance. He’s always trying to make up for it. And I think that my character uses that against him. I thought their relationship was really complicated.

What I love about all that complexity, is that it’s all right there on the screen between them, but it’s never ever discussed in those terms. I suppose men in that era—or even now—would never discuss it anyhow, but you feel it. Like every little emotional bit of what you just described which is what I love about Jacques [Audiard] as a filmmaker. Was he a big draw too?

[Sheepish, with a kid-like look of guilt on his face] I’ll be honest I wasn’t really familiar with this stuff. I heard about the script, people were talking about it, and I just waited to see if it would come my way and it did. But I didn’t watch any of his movies. And If I haven’t seen the person’s movies [when I’m offered one of their projects] I prefer just to meet them and talk to them. And sometimes you do know the films, it all depends.

Maybe it’s in the book, but as far as I remember, it’s unspoken why your character kills his dad?
Oh, really? Well, their father was beating the mother. I thought that that was in the movie, but maybe I can’t remember. It’s just the book perhaps.

Well, I guess it’s another one of the unspoken things. You can glean they were put through something horrible just by seeing who they are as people.
Yeah, then it’s just in the book, that’s what it’s about.

Read more at theplaylist.net 

To play any brother, by blood or not, of John C. Reilly is an intimidating prospect given just how firmly entrenched Will Ferrell is as Reilly’s on-screen sibling.

“Step Brothers,” their 2008 comedy classic that took the adolescent adult to absurdist extremes, looms large. It did even for Joaquin Phoenix in deciding to play Reilly’s brother in “The Sisters Brothers,” Jacques Audiard’s Western. Phoenix considers “Step Brothers” one of his all-time favorites.

“I knew from that movie. It’s kind of unbelievable how brilliant he is in it,” Phoenix says of Reilly. “I know people think of it as a broad comedy, but there’s a lot of thought that went into that character.”


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The two films, “The Sisters Brothers” and “Step Brothers,” are worlds apart. But they are both centered on the subtle and combustible chemistry of brothers. And for Reilly, both Ferrell and Phoenix are two of the funniest people he’s ever met. “Both,” he says, “have made me pee my pants and fall down laughing.”

“The Sisters Brothers,” the first English-language film for the French filmmaker Audiard (“A Prophet,” ”Deheepan”), is based on Patrick deWitt’s novel of the same name. Phoenix plays the hotheaded and hard-drinking Charlie Sisters, younger brother to the more level-headed and uncertain Eli (Reilly). But they are both feared hired guns, who are dispatched by their boss, the Commodore, to track down a chemist (Riz Ahmed) with a radical idea for gold detection.

The movie, which Annapurna Pictures will open in limited release Friday, is largely a pair of two-handers – one between Phoenix and Reilly (together for the first time), the other between Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal (a reunion from “Nightcrawler”), who plays another pursuer who first locates the sought-after chemist. Both relationships throb with existential quandary and more immediate confrontations with change. Reilly’s Eli, for example, encounters a tooth brush for the first time.

Read more at dailymail.co.uk.
Photos: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP.

Joaquin Phoenix was warned by producers that his latest movie would be “a real bummer”.

The 43-year-old actor stars as cartoonist John Callahan, who became a quadriplegic following an accident at the age of 21, in ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’, and Joaquin has admitted that Gus Van Sant had to convince producers that the movie was worth pursuing.

He said: “I remember we had a meeting early on with some producers and they were saying, ‘This just seems like it will be a real bummer, this movie’. And Gus goes, ‘Oh no, we were going to do it with Robin, it wasn’t going to be a bummer at all!’ And they said ‘Yeah, but that was Robin Williams, not Joaquin’. And I was there! In the room!”

Read more at The Reporter Online.

Source: EW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m intrigued by actors who play roles like this, which are incredibly intense and emotional, and I wonder how much of that role gets into your head — how do you go home at night after scenes that are brutal? Is it easy to walk away after you’re done or do you live with the character for a while?
JOAQUIN PHOENIX: There’s no way to answer this without sounding like a f—ing jerk. I don’t know, I always hate, just, like [how] I was affected by this. Every movie, you just basically marinate in the research until it’s like impossible — if you read about one subject matter for weeks or months, of course it’s going to affect you. But I don’t … hopefully it’s not a conscious … I always feel like performances are bad when I see too many conscious decisions, like actors trying to show things, so I hope I didn’t do that, I tried not to show anything. But inevitably you’re going to be affected by this, it’s a brutal world but to be honest. There’s also times where you’re sitting around between takes and me and Lynne are just like telling each other jokes, so it just becomes your life and I think that was part of the thing — when does Joe find humor in things or what is his relationship with his colleagues? It’s like, everything is … you’re seeing a snippet of somebody’s life but they’re like a full human. There’s times that they sit around and watch a f—ing movie, they eat food, so it just becomes your life for a brief period of time.

I imagine you probably get asked a lot about whether you have a preference for dark, tormented characters who live on the edge and what draws you to them, but you’re also just a person who probably likes comedies as well as dramas. It’s trying to understand why you’re drawn to these types of characters.
Yeah, I don’t know, it’s funny because I look at the four movies that I’ve made this year or last year and I wouldn’t say that they were like all intense dramas, and so for me, it feels like the impact for a finished film feels particularly tense, but I didn’t … I don’t know why, to be honest. I didn’t really have the feeling of when I read this script that I have to do this movie. I feel like, it was something that grew and started presenting itself to me as I started researching it and spending time with Lynne. I don’t really know what drew me to the movie — I think maybe it was one of the first times where I was, I guess maybe I was kind of interested in working with Lynne. I think maybe what it is, it’s the not knowing that attracts me. It’s something that seems like so, a world that I don’t understand and it seems so distant from me, and maybe I want to find a way in — what is this puzzle, what can be solved, what can be figured out? I don’t know why, but I don’t sit back going “I want to do this” — I don’t know, I don’t understand why I want to do it.

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