Joaquin Phoenix-AES-118024

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

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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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Recently Joaquin Phoenix rattled the film industry when he dismissed the Academy Awards during an interview with Interview magazine, as ‘bullshit’ and the ‘worst-tasting carrot’ he had ever had in his whole life. But when Husam Sam Asi ( chat to him at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills where he has come to promote his new movie The Master, the two-time Academy nominee denied using the word carrot.

“I don’t know what the context of the conversation was. I don’t remember,” he says, recomposing himself. “I think there’s a lot of truth and wonderful things that are said at the awards and sometimes there are candidates that really deserve the kind of recognition up there, but often times there is the elements of political campaigns that feel false. I think that kind of phoniness overwhelms me and I think that’s maybe what I meant, but, listen, there are wonderful artists that wouldn’t have the opportunity to create if it weren’t for the recognitions that they get so it’s certainly not all bullshit.”

“It breeds a sense of awareness that is not good, particularly when that becomes the goal of actors. So there are some potential hazards that I think you have to be aware of to not let it go to your head.”

“It’s undeniable that my career would be in a very different place if it wasn’t for that experience. Typically I haven’t been in films that have made an exorbitant amount of money and that’s typically how actors oftentimes are allowed to continue to do quality work as they are considered successful.”

“I don’t want to be around 200 people where you just make small talk. You’re going like fuck, I just spent 8 hours at this thing and I was with all these people and I never talked to anybody really. I don’t like that feeling; you always kind of leave feeling a little empty.”

“Sometimes, I think actors don’t really deserve credit for the performances in some ways because I’ve seen performances shaped so much by the director,” Phoenix exclaims. “I guarantee you that if you saw the unedited film, I don’t think you would talk about my performance in a positive way. I think you might say that there were some moments that were good and then you’d say there were things so fucking bad that you can’t imagine that I’m a paid actor. So it’s hard for me ever to take credit for a performance,” he laughs.

“I don’t want to feel like I’m this different thing or that I am like special in some way; it makes me feel funny,” he reflects. “I’m shy and it’s uncomfortable, and you navigate it because you have no choice,” he laughs in resignation.

A lot has been said about Phoenix’s eccentric personality and unpredictable behaviour, which is evidently not completely untrue, but what I also sensed in him was frustration at being misunderstood, dismay at being judged and a yearning to be left alone. ( Husam Sam Asi)


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“What do you mean go back to acting?” Joaquin Phoenix snaps. His turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s look into the origins of Scientology, The Master, is the mercurial actor’s first film since the self-aggrandising I’m Still Here, in which Phoenix, playing himself, pretended to give up acting to pursue a rap career. He adds: “I play myself in this movie too, you play yourself in every movie.”

Given that in The Master Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a US Navy veteran trying to build a new life in 1950s postwar America, failing to hold down jobs and looking for salvation from a charismatic cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman), I ask what the similarities are? He responds colourfully, saying he doesn’t care, before adding: “Next question!”

He’s clearly on edge when we meet and seemingly vulnerable, just like many of the characters he’s essayed. So moving on to safer ground we discuss his performance and finally the actor begins to open up. His character walks around with a limp: “Paul [Thomas Anderson] sent me these songs, like 60 songs, and all the lyrics had to do with walking with a limp or having a broken tube, about somebody who was physically battered. It took me a long while to realise what he was saying. I’m a slow learner.”

The film starts with Phoenix simulating sex on a beach with a woman made of sand. As such it’s a role that required Phoenix to have compete faith in the vision of the director of Boogie Nights and There Will be Blood: “I totally trusted Paul, I remember early on that he said, ‘I’m not going to self-modulate at all, I’m just completely going out there and will rely upon you, I want to be able to come in totally open and be able to go in any direction.’ Paul seemed to have a limitless ambition, which is both exciting and frustrating sometimes and makes you feel stupid a lot.”

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He was nominated for an Oscar for Gladiator but then sabotaged his career by faking a ‘mental breakdown’. Now he is staging a comeback with a movie that has shocked Hollywood

A few months ago, Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix feared that he’d inadvertantly hit the self-destruct button and detonated his career.
The 37-year-old actor had followed huge success with Oscar-nominated roles in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk The Line with a bizarre documentary called I’m Still Here.
In it, he appeared overweight, shockingly unkempt and apparently on the verge of a mental breakdown, claiming he’d ditched his acting career to reinvent himself as a rap artist.
Before it came out, Phoenix went on U.S. chat show Letterman appearing deluded and incoherent. It was car-crash TV.

A few months ago, Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix feared that he’d inadvertantly hit the self-destruct button and detonated his career.

The 37-year-old actor had followed huge success with Oscar-nominated roles in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk The Line with a bizarre documentary called I’m Still Here.

In it, he appeared overweight, shockingly unkempt and apparently on the verge of a mental breakdown, claiming he’d ditched his acting career to reinvent himself as a rap artist.

Before it came out, Phoenix went on U.S. chat show Letterman appearing deluded and incoherent. It was car-crash TV. 

It seemed a sadly predictable end for an actor who’d come to the world’s attention when his brother River Phoenix died of an overdose outside LA club the Viper Room in 1993.

Television and radio news had reported the tragedy using a recording of 18-year-old Joaquin’s desperate call for help to the emergency services. 

The roles he played in subsequent years – a disturbed high-school murderer in To Die For, an ill-fated porn shop employee in 8mm – were dark and difficult to like.

Even his breakthrough in Gladiator as Emperor Commodus saw him pale, pasty and embracing Russell Crowe before stabbing him in the ribs.

Few actors’ names are simultaneously associated with both darkness and brilliance.

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Interview Magazine


When I show up 15 minutes early to meet Joaquin Phoenix for our interview, he is already there—and based on the cigarette butt in the ashtray, he’s been waiting for me for a bit. The notoriously reticent Phoenix regards me with a chuckle: “Good luck with this conversation,” he says, smiling.

Phoenix, 37, has made a triumphal return to the movies with his starring role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s intimate epic, The Master, in which he plays the lost and yearning Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran trying to clear his head when he meets the charismatic Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an author and academic whose oratorical gifts are so silken that he seems to even be hypnotizing himself. The Master trails Freddie in his search for meaning in postwar America. But while Phoenix himself can be an evasive talker, his intent does not appear to be slipperiness or obfuscation. He simply seems uninterested in pimping himself, and is more prone to dropping his awe of Hoffman or his nervousness about working with Anderson; if Phoenix ever writes a Master making-of diary, each entry will likely start with, “Today I’ll probably be fired . . .”

Anderson made Phoenix’s eager restlessness central to Freddie—and The Master as well. I can’t think of another filmmaker whose work focuses almost entirely on anxiety. It may be something that he has in common with Phoenix, who took testing one’s limits to a new level-high or low, depending on your feeling about it—with I’m Still Here (2010), his collaboration with director, best friend, and brother-in-law Casey Affleck. Despite the haze that he created around that film—in which he announced plans to give up acting for a career in hip-hop—Phoenix wants to be understood; and in its aftermath, he wants audiences to be surprised by his performances while they’re still current. So even as Phoenix claimed that he had nothing to say (which was hardly the case), he was generous with his time and did something interview subjects rarely do: easily 20 percent of the conversation was his questioning me. He stayed long enough to be late—quite late—for another appointment, and even took a moment to chat up another lunch guest at the Sunset Tower Hotel when he excused himself from the table and bellowed, “You never call, you never write, you skipped my Bar Mitzvah,” as he strode over to give a warm hello to Richard Lewis. After Phoenix exited, Lewis leaned in and said of his old friend, “He’s a great actor—and a good man. He’s been away too long.” I had to agree.

ELVIS MITCHELL: What do you see in movies when you watch them that makes you think, This is a director who I want to work with? Or does that ever occur to you?

JOAQUIN PHOENIX: I actually like it when I’m not really familiar with the director’s work.


PHOENIX: Yeah. I remember doing a movie and the director gave me a DVD of one of his films to watch. We had this meeting, and I was like, “I like him. I want to work with him, so I don’t want to watch the movie.” I don’t know . . . I was probably foolish.

MITCHELL: Do you want to be surprised when you work with someone? Is that what it is?

PHOENIX: [pauses] I don’t know . . . I don’t know why. Obviously, there are some people, like Ridley [Scott]—I’d seen Blade Runner [1982] and Alien [1979] growing up, so I knew those films before we did Gladiator [2000]. But I guess I just want to base my decision off my interaction with the person, kind of . . . [sighs]

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TIME: Have you seen The Master?

Joaquin Phoenix: I’ve seen a rough version, with no score. I thought it was a comedy. I did! I laughed the entire time I was watching it. I was sitting with Paul and I said to him, “This is hilarious.” I have this horrible sense of humor where I think discomfort is funny—partly because I experience discomfort a lot, and it’s a way of laughing at it and getting a release.

There’s an incredible scene in which Freddie has to answer a barrage of questions from Dodd, without pausing or blinking, becoming increasingly agitated. I’ve seen the movie twice, and both times you could feel the entire audience let out their breath when Dodd finally says, “Close your eyes.” How did you, Paul, and Philip prepare for that scene?

Magicians don’t talk about how their tricks work, because people would go, [affects prim, nasally tone] “Oh, that’s all you do?” [laughs] No, we work very hard! We are working. Very. Hard. Paul set up two cameras to capture us from both sides, so we could be in the moment and not be worried about shooting the one side and then re-lighting and shooting from the other side. That made a huge difference. We spent the most amount of time on the very last bit, when Phil smokes a cigarette and says, “I like Kools.” I started laughing every time he said “I like Kools” and kept blowing the take. And then you’d hear Paul start laughing and I’d start laughing again. It’s funny to think of it as an intense scene, because my memory of it is just uncontrollable laughter.

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