In by far one of the weirdest interviews Letterman has ever conducted, Phoenix appeared detached, aloof and at times irritated during a seven-minute sit-down that had the audience rolling and Letterman searching for some way to get meaningful answers.
Was it all possibly a put-on by the talented actor? Not likely. It's hard to imagine anyone going in front of a national television audience and purposely making himself look that bad. But then again, Hollywood is Hollywood. One never knows.
Phoenix came out dressed in all black, with long hair, a shaggy beard and wearing dark shades, sort of like a Blue Brothers get-up on steroids.
Letterman started out by saying it had been three years since Phoenix had been on the program. The veteran host started in playfully on the actor's beard, asked if it was comfortable or itchy. Phoenix seemed completely aloof and unaware that Letterman was even talking to him. Letterman asked if the beard was comfortable.
"I'm okay with it, but now you're making me feel weird about it," Phoenix said.
Letterman then joked that he can't possibly be the first person to make him feel weird about it, to which the 34-year-old star of such films as "Gladiator" and "Signs," said, "No, I guess not."
Phoenix scratched the left side of his face and Letterman pointed out that's what he was referring to. Is the beard uncomfortable? Phoenix said the scratching was just a nervous tick.
Letterman then lauded Phoenix for his new movie, "Two Lovers," that he stars in alongside Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow. Phoenix, however, seemed completely detached, like he didn't realize Letterman was speaking to him.
"Oh yeah, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw," Phoenix said after a long pause and adjusting his shades.
Letterman told Phoenix he loved the movie and his acting. Phoenix just replied, "Thank you."
At that point the audience was beginning to catch on that something just wasn't right with the entire interview. Laughter began to dictate Dave's questions. Phoenix, however, seemed unfazed by the whole thing, lost in whatever world he was currently occupying.
After a long pause, Letterman, clearly puzzled by Phoenix's lack of focus in the interview, got in one of the best zingers of the conversation.
"So what can you tell me about your days with the Unabomber?"
Phoenix just stared into space.
Later, Letterman said he hoped after Phoenix took some time off from acting, as he had said he plans to do to pursue a music career, he would reconsider and return to the big screen because, Letterman said, Phoenix is one of the best actors in Hollywood.
Phoenix didn't reply, even as the audience members encouraged him with cheers and applause.
Letterman continued his prodding and asked Phoenix what he plans on doing while taking a sabbatical from acting.
"Well, I've been working on my music," he said through a stutter.
Letterman then praised Phoenix for his work in the Academy Award-nominated flick "Walk The Line" and asked if that style of music is something Phoenix wants to pursue.
"No, no … I do more of hip-hop music," he replied.
The audience snickered and Phoenix looked generally surprised and said, "What is that, a joke?" He then looked at Letterman and said, "What do you have them on? What do you gas them up with?"
Phoenix later uttered a simple "yes" when asked if it was fun to act alongside "Two Lovers" co-star Isabella Rossellini.
Letterman then asked Phoenix if he has any fun stories to tell the audience. Again, Phoenix looked lost, as if he didn't understand the question.
Letterman asked the actor to keep the "Late Show" in mind when his new hip-hop career takes off because "we want to be there."
"Well, I'd love to come on this show and perform," Phoenix said, setting the stage for some of the most uncomfortable moments of the interview.
Letterman quickly responded, "You know that seems unlikely," to huge laughs.
Phoenix tried to say he's seen some of the other guests perform, as if to say if you'd give them the chance why not me? But Letterman quickly segued into something else.
"I'll keep you in our Rolodex," Letterman said to huge laughs.
Letterman, as he customarily does with guests on his show, asked Phoenix to help set up the clip he was about to show. Phoenix had no idea and took exception to Paul Shaffer's laughing. "Are you ------ kidding? Are you serious with that maniacal laughter? I don't know what the clip is."
Letterman explained it was a clip with Paltrow, to which Phoenix said, "You're doing fine." Letterman fired back, "That's high praise, coming from you."
That response clearly irked Phoenix, who tried to get an explanation from Letterman for his sarcasm. The host said, "Relax. We're having fun."
"I'll come to your house and chew gum," Letterman added. Phoenix took the gum out of his mouth and put it under Letterman's desk.
Letterman closed the interview by saying, "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."
Phoenix smiled a bit, looked down and said, "He's funny. He's a funny dude."
Inconsistent chatter from a Sacramento-based 'Sconi attorney.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
If you thought Joaquin Phoenix was bizarre before, his behavior during an interview on the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday didn't do much to dispel the notion that the actor, at times, isn't all there. Watch it, here.