The biggest problem with Joaquin Phoenix’s act right now is that it’s not helping the Magnolia movie coming out Friday. Yes, I know people say that all publicity is good publicity. But film marketing is a craft, and there’s nothing crafty about Joaquin squandering PR opportunities like his media interviews or his mute appearance on David Letterman last night. (See my previous, Joaquin Phoenix Ends Career…On Dave?) His Two Lovers director James Gray spoke to Phoenix after his appearance on The Late Show. “He said, ‘Oh it was good, it was really good.’ I watched it this morning… I don’t know what to say.” Because who wants to see the romance film if the talented actor has turned into such a jerk? Grey doesn’t seem to know if this is a hoax, and the joke’s on all of us, and the actor is just goofing for Casey Affleck’s mockumentary on him and his supposed foray into the rap music biz. On the other hand, Gray says Phoenix has built a music studio in his home. Gray is telling ABC News Radio he’s baffled by Phoenix’s behavior. “If it is an act, it’s the most committed act I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Gray said Phoenix’s fatigue with acting was obvious while filming Two Lovers. “Toward the end of the shoot, he kept saying, ‘Oh I’m so tired, I’m so tired.’ You hear that kind of thing and you think it’s a joke. I just ignored it.” So when Gray, who also worked with Phoenix on 2000’s The Yards and 2007’s We Own the Night, found out via the Internet that Phoenix had vowed never to act again, “I drove up to his house because his phone was disconnected. ‘I don’t want to act anymore, I’ve been doing it for 30 years and if you did something for 30 years, you’d want to quit too.'” Now, Gray wonders if he’s responsible for Phoenix’s decision to quit acting and take up rapping. Two Lovers features an awkward freestyle rap performance by Joaquin, and Gray believes the actor is imitating him. “I had an obsession with doing that sort of thing as a teenager. It turns out that Joaquin is imitating me in a lot of the movie. He said, ‘I want to do that, I want to steal from that, I want to do the rap that you used to do.’ I said, ‘OK.’ And now I’m seeing him do this thing, and I feel like I’ve ruined Joaquin Phoenix for the world. I don’t want to be the guy that destroyed Joaquin Phoenix’s acting career.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.