In an interview to promote “The Sisters Brothers,” Phoenix said he was already preparing for the role, and expressed concern that promoting the new release was getting in his way. “It is ideal to be able to focus on one thing and not do press while you’re prepping for something else, which is not working out,” he said. Nevertheless, the typically tight-lipped actor shrugged off the pressure of tackling such an iconic character. “I could care less,” he said. “I don’t really think that much about what people think. Who cares, who cares? My approach to every movie is the same. What I’m interested in is the filmmaker and the idea of the character.”

Earlier in the summer, Phoenix told Collider that he was intrigued by movies featuring “characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studies.” These days, however, he’s more reserved about the challenge. (“What else you got?” he asked when pressed to elaborate on his preparation for the role.) However, he did say that the scale of a blockbuster production didn’t bother him, even though it was an anomaly in his career. “If there’s something that feels unique, then I don’t really care what genre it is, what budget it is,” he said. “Those things aren’t important.” Instead, he said, “What gets my interest is examining people. Some of it is really fucking simple. It’s chemistry, it’s like what you look for in a lover. You know it when it happens.”

While some actors pivot from prestige roles to blockbuster escapism as a survival tactic, Phoenix insisted he had no concerns about the kind of opportunities at his disposal. “I feel like I’ve consistently worked at the same pace,” he said. “It feels like every five years, somebody says ‘They don’t make those kind of movies anymore.’ Maybe that will happen, but I’ve been lucky thus far.”