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LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t clear where the conversation with Joaquin Phoenix went off-track, assuming it was ever on track to begin with. But now he was batting me around the way a cat bounces its prey between its paws before devouring it.

At this moment, it wasn’t my questions about why, in an idiosyncratic film career, he had chosen to play the Joker, the cackling comic-book criminal, or how he had prepared for the demanding, transformative role, or what it all meant about the state of contemporary moviemaking that had set him off — though these topics would all provoke him in different ways, in time.

It was my stray observation that he could probably sustain himself on emotionally wrung-out roles for as long as he wanted, which had caused Phoenix to recoil in his seat like he was Tony Montana, about to unload on an incompetent underling.

“Oh, really?” he asked, in a sarcastic voice as dry as sandpaper. “Well, good. Thank you so much. That’s great. I was worried.” Then he grinned and let out a laugh, to let me know he was kidding. Or was he?

If you’re going to make a movie about a homicidal madman in clown makeup, you might as well get a guy who radiates low-level menace. Though he has portrayed everyone from Johnny Cash to Jesus of Nazareth, Phoenix has lately settled into a string of movies about loners (“The Master,” “Her,” “Inherent Vice”), killers (“The Sisters Brothers”) and lonesome killers (“You Were Never Really Here”) that have let him plumb the depths of human experience.

While there’s no telling where his creative wanderings will take him, it would have seemed safe to predict that a high-profile movie based on a studio-owned intellectual property wouldn’t be anywhere on that itinerary.

But here he is, starring in “Joker,” a seedy character study and possible origin story for this perpetual Batman nemesis. The movie, which is directed by Todd Phillips and will be released by Warner Bros. on Oct. 4, is neither a traditional comic-book blockbuster, nor typical source material for its leading man.

Read more at NYtimes.com

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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Source: Collider.

Collider: Franchise movies are bigger than ever. I would imagine that you have probably been offered many types of franchises and/or superhero roles. Does that interest you at all?

JOAQUIN PHOENIX: I guess it depends. It depends on the character, and the filmmaker, and what they’re after. I wouldn’t refuse anything just based on the genre. I think about superhero movies the way that I imagine Westerns were. There were just these comics that were like Westerns, and then they started making movies. At some point, someone came along and was like, “Wait a minute, we can actually really explore something here, about humanity and the character.” I think that there’s that potential with any movie. I have had meetings, and I’ve gotten close to a couple of things, because I’ve thought, “There’s something in that character that might be interesting,” but ultimately it didn’t work out.

There was a lot of talk about you doing Doctor Strange. There’s been talk about you and Joker. The advantage of the superhero movie is these are some of the few films that have such a large canvas to work with, in terms of the budget and the way you can build a world. They’re very, very popular, and some of them are awesome.

PHOENIX: I mean who cares about popular? Sometimes having a limited budget might be really good. Something about having to work really hard, and adapt to your budget, that maybe creates something interesting, right?

Totally.

PHOENIX: I think that’s probably … Isn’t that kind of what’ll happen? Sometimes a movie will work, and then they’ll do a sequel and they’ll have a bigger budget, and everyone kind of relaxes a little bit, and then it just gets progressively worse and worse?

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Recent reports have pegged Joaquin Phoenix to play the Joker in a new DC film directed by Todd Phillips and produced by Martin Scorsese that would sort of track the origins of the character and not be connected to the current DC cinematic universe. However, while Variety reported the actor was in negotiations for the part, Phoenix has remained cagey on whether or not he’s doing the movie. In a lengthy conversation in support of his new movie You Were Never Really Here, Fandango asked Phoenix point blank whether he was going to play the Joker, and, well, he’s still not talking.

“I don’t know… it could be an interesting character, I don’t know,” Phoenix said with a bit of a mischievous grin on his face. He didn’t deny the news like he has previously, but he also didn’t confirm either way whether he’d be playing DC’s Clown Prince.

If he did take on the role, it’d be one of the more high-profile films Joaquin Phoenix has ever done. And it’s not the first comic book movie to come calling either, with Phoenix’s name thrown around for everything from Marvel’s Doctor Strange to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

So does he have a comic book itch that needs scratching and he’s just waiting for the right project? According to Phoenix, he’s certainly up for a big, splashy superhero movie, but only if the conditions are exactly right.

“I see it as any other movie,” he said. “I wouldn’t say… “I won’t do Westerns.” It depends on what it is. I don’t really care about the genre, I care about the character and the filmmaker. If you have the ability to transcend the genre, then that’s what you want to do. So I wouldn’t say, hands down, no – I wouldn’t do that kind of movie. There are things where I’ve flirted with the possibility where there was the potential for this to be… something that’s actually interesting to me. But then for whatever reason they never got to that place where everyone else feels the same way. And that’s key. Everyone has to want to explore the same thing or else it just doesn’t f**king work. I’m not opposed to it. I don’t make decisions on budget or things like that – it’s really the filmmaker and the character.”

When we told Phoenix that he’d make a really good Joker and that he should do it, he sat back, smiled, rubbed his hands together and gave a look as if to say, well, we’ll see. Based on his overall response, though, it seems like this is only happening if everyone is on the same page with regards to how he’s going to portray the character — and like he said, he’s most interested if it means he has the chance to transcend the genre. With a character like the Joker, that’s certainly possible, but will it all come together in the way the actor would like it to? Clearly that’s still to be determined.

“You Were Never Really Here” hits theaters on April 6.

Source.

Joaquin Phoenix has explained his two-year hiatus from acting, saying he went through a period where he did not even want to read scripts.

The actor, 43, who has taken on the role of Jesus in new film Mary Magdalene, said when he first decided to return to work there were no projects that interested him, before he ended up working back-to-back on four films including the biblical story, and Lynne Ramsay’s new film You Were Never Really Here.

He said: “I’ve been super fortunate the last few years, I’ve worked with some amazing filmmakers and that’s always inspiring, but I didn’t work for two years before I worked on Lynne’s movie. Mostly when I work or don’t work it’s because there aren’t projects I want to work on. And there are times also when I just say, ‘I don’t want to read anything, and I’m just going to take six months’, and that’s what happened. I’d taken a year off, I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for a year, and then I was like, ‘OK, I’m ready to work’, and then there was nothing that I wanted to do for a year. And then it was really strange because it just went from nothing to these four movies that I couldn’t say no to. It just happened that way. I’d never done that much but I think working with the filmmakers and the actors was so inspiring, so that fuelled me.”

Phoenix said it was important to forget other people’s expectations of him when he was taking on the role of Jesus in Mary Magdalene.

He said: “When you first start, so many people have so many different expectations, and you imagine what the expectations are, but every film that I do, there’s a point where I just say, ‘Well this is mine now, and I have to find a way to internalise this and just to have this experience’.

“I can’t perform other people’s expectations. So I think that was part of it and discoveries that we made as we went along, and sometimes you just react to the environment and the other actors, and it makes you look at a scene differently.”

The film tells the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection from the perspective of Magadalene, played by Rooney Mara, and dismisses the traditional view that she was a prostitute.

Phoenix said: “For a lot of people, faith is really important and I couldn’t help but think of young girls that are religious and have felt like their two examples of them in the Bible are either the virgin or the whore.

“And even if you’re not conscious of that, subconsciously it has to affect you and the way that you navigate the world and navigate your faith.

“And it seems like such a f**ked up thing to do to somebody.”

Mary Magdalene is out in UK cinemas now.

Source.

Photograph: Richard Saker for the Guardian / Source: The Guardian – Published on 8 Mar 2018.

The actor is back with another no-holds-barred performance in his new movie, You Were Never Really Here. He talks about his unorthodox childhood, playing Jesus – and the toll Hollywood’s ‘rampant’ abuse culture takes on everybody.

Joaquin Phoenix blows into London at the same time as the snow, like a competing weather front, talking up a blue streak. Outside, the flakes are flying and the temperature is below zero. Inside, he is preaching peace, love, tolerance and understanding – and it is all I can do to get a word in edgeways. My questions sit unread on my lap; the publicist hovers anxiously at the door. Who’s going to stop him? Who has the clout? When the man’s on a roll, it’s difficult to say: “Cut!”

“Just be in the moment,” Phoenix advises at one point. “Don’t overthink it, let it be what it is. If you keep trying to find what’s unique in the moment, then the danger is that you miss that very thing.” I think he’s talking about the craft of film acting. He may be talking about life.

Phoenix has been a turbulent screen presence for so many years that it is startling to realise that he is only 43. He has played dented Johnny Cash, the depraved emperor Commodus, an introverted lonely heart in Spike Jonze’s Her and a raging, rough beast in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Some great actors are deliberate and precise, but Phoenix is at his best when he seems on the outer edge of control; when he threatens to break loose from the picture and bring the scenery crashing about his ears. The man goes at things freestyle, for better or worse. He says: “The great thing about film is that you get to make mistakes.”

On his latest film, You Were Never Really Here, he has found a kindred spirit in the British film-maker Lynne Ramsay – another wild talent who sometimes courts disaster. Ramsay bashed out the script on spec, at speed, after bailing out of another movie (Jane Got a Gun) on the first day of production. She tells me she wrote the lead role with Phoenix expressly in mind. “Stuck his picture above the computer, as though I could telepathically put him in my film.” Sure enough, the actor materialised on set having never met her before. “He’s instinctual and unpredictable,” Ramsay says. “The range of stuff that he gave me … I could have made several other completely different films.”

As it is, her picture is roiling and delirious; a missing-person thriller spun violently on its head. Phoenix plays Joe, a traumatised former soldier on a mission to retrieve a trafficked teenager. He says he did some research – spoke to an ex-military guy who does similar work. Mainly, though, he followed his gut. “Lynne sent me an audio file of Fourth of July fireworks. She said: ‘That’s what’s happening inside Joe’s head.’ That’s one thing that really clicked for me.”

So forget about Joe; how about playing Jesus? In Mary Magdalene – a revisionist take on the gospels released later this month – Phoenix co-stars as the messiah alongside his girlfriend, Rooney Mara, who plays Mary Magdalene. Surely this was a role that required some rigorous research? There’s a lot of material to wade through about Jesus.

He shrugs, unconcerned. “Lots of material. Lots of conflicting material. But, in the end, it’s a character. And, as with all characters, whether it’s Johnny Cash or whoever, you have to make it about a man; about his personal experience. And for Jesus, what makes his death such a sacrifice is that he didn’t want to die. This was a man who wanted to continue the experience of living, just as we all do. So it was important to me to find those human qualities.”

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