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What’s the deal with Joaquin Phoenix?

February 12, 2009

Joaquin Phoenix’s flat-footed appearance on Wednesday night’s “Late Show with David Letterman” had the audience laughing as the actor let Letterman’s pointed, mocking questions joaquin-phoenixgo unanswered.

But maybe Phoenix is angling to have the last laugh with his professed retirement from acting to take up a career in hip-hop music?

Even though he has insisted in interviews with Reuters and others that he is not trying to fool anyone, some people are wondering if the whole thing is an elaborate  put-on. 

Wearing dark shades and a suit, Phoenix seemed unable to answer Letterman’s question about why his is quitting acting after ”Two Lovers,” which opens on Friday.

 ”It’s not really an easy thing to explain, it’s something that’s been a part of my life for a long time. It’s weird to like come out on stage in front of a bunch of other people and just talk about it,” Phoenix said.

At other times during the 10-minute interview, Phoenix stuck his gum under Letterman’s desk, swore at the show’s band leader Paul Shaffer, claimed ignorance that his latest movie is loosely based on a story by Fyodor Dostoevsky and changed the subject of his quitting acting to ask about Letterman’s cut thumb.

Oscar-nominated Phoenix’s new bearded appearance has taken fans by surprise. Remarking on the new look, Letterman asked him, “Can you tell us about your days with the Unabomber?,” a reference to a murderous and bearded U.S. radical who lived in the woods and grew a beard.

Phoenix’s response was merely to dust off his suit.

While many viewers thought Phoenix was just plain loopy, celebrity Web site got suspicious. In a blog post entitled “Letterman Falls for Joaquin Sideshow”, TMZ suggested that Phoenix’s goal is to pretend “he’s quitting acting to become a rap star — even though his singing sucks — and showing how the media will fall for it.”

It could be that , as he says, Phoenix is simply tired of acting.  In the meantime, he has become the butt of jokes.  Ending his interview with Phoenix, Letterman remarked,  “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.”


If you want to see someone making fun of the audience, watch anything by Tony Clifton (aka Andy Kaufman). Watch the film “Man on the Moon”.

To understand Joaquin, you need to know that some actors immerse themselves in the character for the duration of the film. Viggo Mortensen carried his sword EVERYWHERE while making Lord Of the Rings. People love Daniel Day Lewis for the way that he “becomes the character”. Even these guys struggle to shut it down when the film ends.

Joaquin has failed to “turn off the character” after his last film. Someone needs to tell him that the shooting schedule has ended. He can go back to being himself now. But what if Joaquin doesn’t want the role to end? What if he’d rather be this role than be himself? What if he can’t turn it off?

Reminds me of “Being John Malkovich” with the title character retiring from acting to pursue his life-long dream of puppetry. How many voices are inside his head…

Posted by EricB | Report as abusive

Posters here are all wrong and obviously uneducated lemmings for the most part.

He has paranoid schizophrenia, end of story.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

You guys are all idiots!!

It’s the greatest act he’s ever played… he is filming a mockumentary, the appearance on Letterman is part of it.

Posted by You Morons! | Report as abusive

I agree with Mike, I could see Joaquin trying very hard not to laugh. Dave was amazing! What timing, if he was not in on the gag I think it was the first time I really thought Letterman was funny. Anyway, Joaquin is a brilliant actor (emphasis) on ACTOR! I think this is a great joke on the media.

Posted by Tami | Report as abusive

To me Phoenix is just being disrespectful. Just watch his first appearance with Letterman, did Letterman change?! Why do you accept to appear on a comedy show if you’re not willing to talk at all?! So now Phoenix thinks he figured it all out?! Just respect everyday people who go to work every single day and try thier best to earn thier living… THIER BEST man, not thier worst. Is that what too much money does to people?!

This act is a child’s act and he should be ashamed.

Posted by Jaw | Report as abusive

The man is an amazing (beyond a doubt, unbelievable // completely believable, to a “great” many) artist …
probably because, he is able to tap into the infinite …
He is the brother of a dead phoenix,
Legend (& my intuition) says there is only ‘one’ Phoenix,
one dies so another ‘one’ may rise …

What does ‘Joaquin’ mean in other languages ??
Will Joaquin perish soon(ish), as his brother ?
Is Joaquin the rising Phoenix ?

We will all need to seriously consider the lyrics of Joaquin’s rap … one way, or, the other way …
You know what I mean, eh??))

Peace Love Light Truth
; -)
(- ;


ps. or he is playing his part of TPTB (urban survival / web bot, lingo) master plan … to distract from the financial raping of the American tax payer ???

Well ? … it is a distraction, of more important issues ?

In Canada,
We love the American Constitution !!
In a pure (human/nature point of mind) way …
the US Constitution,
(minus the arguments about \’words\’ complete, (see \’Corporate/Bankster\’ (4th amendment) interpretation) meaning(s))
is an amazing structure !!
one of the Greatest pieces of Human Architecture !!

We (in Canada) need your help, and you (in USA) need ours. We are brothers and sisters and TPTB will try and hold us apart, listen to your intuition ))

Joaquin\’s actions could be described as many things, perhaps, things just aren\’t as they seem ?

Peace Love Light Truth
; -)
(- ;


Joaquin likes to take roles as the odd man out, but that works for him as an actor so this interview with Letterman might complement his career


He might have “retired,” but he is still behind a camera.”

Posted by Martha C.S. | Report as abusive

I knew River and I met Joaquin a couple of times and they were both beautiful people. I think Joaquin is still a beautiful person and he’s also SMOKIN HOT!!! I just think Joaquin is still fighting with the fact that his bro died in front of him outside the Viper Room. Why don’t we just leave Joaquin alone and let him do what he wants, it makes him happy then let him do it. I will always love Joaquin and I’ll be behind him 100%. I also keep River in my heart cause I will always love him; cause he was such a beautiful person, and so is Joaquin. I LOVE YOU ALWAYS JOAQUIN!!!

Posted by Cyndi | Report as abusive

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