Paul Thomas Anderson and cast of “Inherent Vice” at a press conference during the 52nd New York Film Festival.

Joaquin Phoenix is often the go-to actor for haunted emotion, but he’s softened up to play a lonely writer in Her. By Cath Clarke.

Joaquin Phoenix is telling me he’s sick of the impression people have of him which depicts him as awkward or difficult. To which the obvious answer is, stop playing all those awkward, difficult characters! Actually don’t. There’s no-one better at it.

To be fair, Phoenix does reveal his gentler side in his new film, Her. He’s quietly dazzling as Theodore Twombly, a sensitive writer living in Los Angeles around 2025 who falls in love with his computer operating system (think Siri, circa the release of the iPhone 87). Theodore is a big softy: “Everything makes you cry,” his ex-wife tells him snarkily. As messed up as the next guy, he is possibly one of the least troubled characters the 39-year-old actor has given us – a lifetime of pain away from Freddie in The Master, the anger and schemes of Commodus in Gladiator, or the beardy, shambolic quasi-Phoenix of the hoax documentary, I’m Still Here.

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Five years ago, bearded Joaquin Phoenix appeared on the David Letterman program, saying he would leave the movie career to become a rapper – and thus made ​​everyone believe that he had gone mad. In 2010, Phoenix revealed that it was all part of a character created for the staged documentary I’m Still Here, and many thought he was finished – who dares to make a joke with these Hollywood? But after that, the 39 year old actor was nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Master and is now being praised by Her (which premieres this Friday, 7 in Brazil). The actor plays the solitary and sensitive Theodore, who falls for Samantha (voice of Scarlett Johansson) self-styled operating system. MMA fan, Phoenix exalts the feminine side of the character, and says that, like Theodore, can well live alone.

Samantha uses much music to show how you’re feeling . Do you?
At work , I have done a few times. Occasionally the director plays some music to create an atmosphere , because music is a powerful emotional tool that transcends even language.

Are you a music fan ?
Yes, but I go through some stages . When I was younger , I bought a disc , and I was sat there listening – devoured , actually. And I do not do this for a long time .

That rapper character I’m Still Here reflected some secret desire to be a rapper ?
I do not have this desire , because I know that is not something I could do . I chose to be a rapper in the movie because he had some knowledge , then during an interview I could talk about producers and DJs It had nothing to do with a desire to be a rapper . Maybe I wanted to 13 years old.

Do you think you is a better actor after this experience ?
I do not know if I’m better … but surely a lot has changed for me . The process was antithetical of most films. Today I see as a tremendous luxury to have multiple takes to achieve the desired result . In I’m Still Here , sometimes we did things in public and it was only a chance to hit. But it was very nice to stay focused , keep me in character under any circumstances .

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Joaquin Phoenix is renowned for being difficult, but that didn’t stop Spike Jonze wanting him for the lead in his Oscar-nominated “Her”.

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“How was he?” asks Spike Jonze, nervously, of Joaquin Phoenix. Delightful, I reply. The nicest actor I’ve ever met. He smiles. That’s not what people usually say.

Articles about Phoenix, often focus on his intensity, his weirdness; questions that hang unanswered before he smirks and the room stays silent. Much stems from a Late Show with David Letterman in 2009, when he turned up with a Unabomber beard and talked up his rap career. The interview was for the dishevelled documentary I’m Still Here, in which the actor played himself in a downward spiral.

Jonze didn’t know the actor before directing him in his new film, Her. “When I was writing the part, I was thinking, ‘Joaquin would be amazing, but is he right for it?’ ” he says. “I couldn’t get a sense”.

Unfortunately, the entire interview is not available.

Photo by Vicki Couchman.


“What are we doing?” Joaquin Phoenix asked me, with a mix of confrontation and self-disgust. “Is this what we’re doing? It’s nothing about you, but I don’t know why we’re doing this.” It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in mid-October, the day after the New York Film Festival premiere of Her, in which Phoenix is wonderfully appealing, romantic, and vulnerable as a man who falls in love with his computer’s operating system. Phoenix, 39, was dressed in beat-up jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie, and boots that were untied. His hair was shoulder length for his role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’70s period drama Inherent Vice, which had just finished production in Los Angeles. As usual, Phoenix seemed both jumpy and curious. He was lighting up one American Spirit after another, which was part of the reason we were meeting on the patio of the hotel where he was staying, the Greenwich. I was there to interview Phoenix; he was there to smoke. Or so it seemed.

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Phoenix was polite, especially to the waiter who brought us tea, and strangely endearing, but his code of personal authenticity does not abide talking to journalists. When I complimented Her, he waved me off and said, “I don’t want to hear it. You sound insincere.” When I protested and maintained that I genuinely loved his performance, he winced. Feeling hurt, I changed the subject and asked what films had influenced him as a child, when he began acting in commercials and on television shows like Murder, She Wrote. “I don’t know anything about movies,” Phoenix replied. “I’m not trying to censor myself, but I really don’t know anything.” I then tried to be practical and inquired about audience reaction to the Her screening. “I don’t know, since I didn’t watch the film,” Phoenix countered. “I usually see a rough cut of the movie if the director asks me to, but I won’t see it after that. There’s a danger that watching the movie might cause me to wonder if I was good or bad, and that might mess me up in some way. I don’t want to risk it. Awards shows are excruciating. They show a clip out of context, and I won’t watch. I look at the ground.” Phoenix sighed. “You come up with reasons for doing interviews,” he said finally. “But I don’t think those are the real reasons.” This was a hint, perhaps, that he believed the true motivation for an actor doing press might have less to do with supporting a film than with ego and a desire for attention. “You fucker! You fucker!” Phoenix then said, out of the blue. I must have looked shocked. “I’m sorry,” he said, laughing. “That’s a line from Inherent Vice. I keep saying it.” He laughed again. “I have to go to the bathroom,” he said, standing up. I wasn’t sure he would come back.

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Actor Joaquin Phoenix feels terrified when fans approach him because he is not used to dealing with autograph-hunters.

The Walk The Line star tries his best to avoid the Hollywood lifestyle, and admits he feels scared and “overwhelmed” when he has to deal with members of the public who recognise him from his films.

He tells Britain’s Event magazine, “Celebrity is so not part of my life. If I’m walking around and somebody comes up with a camera, it terrifies me. I can imagine that if you are Johnny Depp, for years you’ve had such a level of fame that you are somewhat accustomed to it and you expect it when you go out. I’ve managed to avoid it to the extent where I sometimes get trapped in situations that I don’t know how to deal with. I feel overwhelmed. But I’d rather be overwhelmed in these moments and enjoy my life privately. I’ve been able to have the life I want.”

Phoenix is convinced he has managed to lead a more “normal” life compared to his fellow stars, adding, “Compared to other people in the business I do live a normal life. I can’t get off set and away from it fast enough. I leave and I don’t talk to anybody in the business at all for a couple of weeks. I hate the beach. I don’t like travelling. I’m not being evasive. I just don’t like the things that most people would like.”


Joaquin was on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in a very entertaining interview that aired last night.

Cover Media Interview

Via Cover Media

It’s always an unusual experience to interview Phoenix, and today is no exception. He’s promoting the film Her, in which he stars opposite Scarlett Johansson (though she only voices her character). In his own offbeat way he discusses his philosophy about career and his thoughts behind the controversial film, I’m Still Here.

Q: What did you have in common with the character you played?
PHOENIX: I don’t know, I don’t think about that.

Q: But how did you relate to that character?
PHOENIX: I am sure that I do. This is why I hate doing press, because it makes me about things that I don’t want to think about at all and that’s not healthy for the work. I don’t think it’s necessary or healthy to think about those things, I don’t try to when I work. I don’t know, I am sure I have many things in common with everything I’ve done, it’s probably just an extension of me. I don’t know, I don’t think about it, I don’t care.

Q: Is it true that you said to Spike Jonze that you can’t play this part originally when you read the script?
PHOENIX: I don’t know. I don’t remember saying that, I am sure that I probably have said that to every director I have ever worked with, like, ‘I don’t know how I will be able to pull this off.’

Q: And when do you realise, okay, I can handle this?
PHOENIX: I don’t think I ever do. (laughter) I don’t think there’s ever a point and frankly I think that if I tell you I’ve had experiences, like scenes and moments where I have gone, ‘All right I got it,’ was the worst thing always. Always the worst scene always. I don’t think that I have a sense of what’s right going on.

Q: What does it take to get you in front of a camera these days?
PHOENIX: I think the director is like 99 percent of it.

Q: To what extent do you feel the future as shown in Her is a reality?
PHOENIX: I really don’t know. I am excited about the future and excited about technology. I think it’s really f*cking cool, and I like it, I don’t fear it at all.

Q: The directors always cast you for roles where characters live in their own reality and are struggling to find out what’s real and what isn’t…
PHOENIX: Awesome it sounds like all of us. (laughter)

Q: Do you suffer from that?
PHOENIX: What do you mean, like from the basic questions of life, like who are we, what are we doing? And what’s the point of this and what’s real, and you don’t? (Laughter) I was actually just reading this thing in this Science Magazine. It was suggesting they were theorising that our universe and our world experience might be a simulation and they are actually doing tests to try to see if that’s true. I think it’s a fucking fascinating idea, and it excites me. And yeah, I do think reality is totally subjective.

Q: I see this movie as a deeply romantic love movie. What comes to your mind when you are thinking about love?
PHOENIX: I wouldn’t know how to answer that.

Q: And how was it working with Scarlett? Did she record her voice?
PHOENIX: Yeah, she recorded her voice. We went to the recording studio and it was the same thing, she was in the soundproof box and we did these scenes together, but I am sure that they used, I am not sure, but I would imagine that they used a lot of my original audio, but maybe not. I am not sure because maybe the performance was changed with Scarlett, but she is such a good actor, Scarlett. Last night, I asked her a question and she answered it and she said, ‘Do it again.’ So I asked her the same question again, and she did a different version of her answer. (laughter)

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In an interview with Esquire magazine, Joaquin Phoenix admits he suffers from crippling nerves on film sets that leave him “uncontrollably shaking” despite earning three Oscar nominations in 30 years in the business.

The star puts his success — which includes nominations for Walk The Line, The Master and Gladiator — down to luck and insisted: “I don’t know my craft.”

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Phoenix, 39, said: “Every f***ing movie I feel like it’s my first. I’m uncontrollably shaking, physically nervous. No way am I like, ‘Yeah, I got this’. Every time feels f***ing terrifying. They have to put f***ing pads in my armpits because I sweat so much.

“I like being an employee. My job is to please the director, that’s it. Because seriously, if you see cuts and dailies, it’s hard for any actor to take credit. Any performance in a movie is the complete work, and it’s the director that sews it all together.

“These guys I’ve been working with, Spike and Paul (directors Spike Jonze and Paul Thomas) I was thinking the other day: what happened? I don’t deserve to be here.” He added: “Here’s what I worry about. If you ever take your jacket off on set and just hold it out while you’re talking to the director because you expect a wardrobe person to grab it — that’s when it’s time to go home.

“When people are constantly adjusting your collar and lapel and you just give in to it? It’s over. You’re no longer a human being.”

The actor, who is soon to appear in sci-fi romance Her and drama Immigrant with Marion Cotillard, said working in the film industry had made him immature.

He told Esquire magazine: “My taste is like a sophisticated four-year-old. I wish I could say I watch European movies and shit, but I don’t. I watch Step Brothers (2008 Will Ferrell comedy) more than any other f***ing movie.

“When you see an adult actor on set, they look infantilised. People are there to dress you. They bring you espressos and lattes. It’s like arrested development. We’re all just little f***ing runt kids.”


New York Magazine

Director Spike Jonze and Her star Joaquin Phoenix discuss the creative process behind one of the year’s most unique and beautiful love stories in the latest issue of New York Magazine. Click here to read the entire article.

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James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix discussed their new film “The Immigrant” following a screening at the 51st New York Film Festival.



You wouldn’t necessarily figure Joaquin Phoenix for a morning person. It’s 9am in California, the line is bad, his phone is faulty. Yet this is a man ecstatically happy. It sounds like you’re at sea, I say, between the beeps and crackles. “Oh great! I’m so glad it’s not just me!” He sounds genuinely over the moon. You’d be less thrown if he just grunted.

Phoenix is an unpredictable interviewee. Will you get the mumbler? The joker? The Phoenix of I’m Still Here, his mockumentary about chucking it all in for a career in hip-hop? Or the guy who smoked his way silently through the press conference for The Master at the Venice film festival, followed by fractious chats and a no-show at the awards ceremony? Two months ago, the US critic Elvis Mitchell extracted a great, unwieldly interview from him riffing on ambition and identity, race relations and the virtues of uncertainty. The piece made waves because Phoenix damned awards season as “bullshit” (“it’s the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted”) and said the Oscar campaign around his 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line had made him profoundly uncomfortable (he was also nominated for Gladiator five years previously). He’s since offered some sort of backtrack, but clams up when I raise it.

Mostly, though, Phoenix is just genial. He laughs almost constantly; a high guttural clucking, punctuated by long pauses and apologies and puffs on a breakfast cigarette. For one so self-conscious in his career choices, he’s remarkably unself-regarding to talk to; almost as rackety and frank as Freddie Quell, his character in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film – our movie of the year, of which his performance is the centrepiece. Quell is a damaged second-world-war navy vet; groggy on paintstripper liquor, reeling from a broken heart, who falls under the spell of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the baloney-preaching leader of a Scientology-style cult. But where Freddie stumbles about, twisted and listless, Phoenix – on the phone at least – freewheels more breezily. It doesn’t feel like a performance. But I guess the best ones never do.

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