Joaquin Phoenix had been making a name for himself as one of the most promising actors of his generation. Brother to the late River Phoenix, Joaquin broke out to many at first with the 2000 epic Gladiator, then solidified his stardom as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. But these days, Joaquin Phoenix seems to be chucking away his acting stardom for strange reasons we may not fully understand yet. David Letterman was the latest to be confused when Phoenix came to Late Night last night.
Several months ago, Joaquin Phoenix announced that he was leaving acting to become some kind of singer – either in the vein of Johnny Cash or perhaps as a rapper. Few were very clear on the details. Since then. Phoenix has laid low, and has reportedly given a few bizarre singing performances in Las Vegas.
Phoenix came on David Letterman for his first talk show appearance since all this madness started. Presumably, Phoenix was on to promote what may be his final film for a while, Two Lovers, co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow. But Phoenix did not talk much about the movie – in fact, he did not talk much at all.
Letterman was at a loss on how to proceed, as Phoenix gave mumbling and very short answers to Letterman’s questions. Phoenix’s look didn’t help much either, dressed in all black, wearing sunglasses, and with a beard that rivaled Jack’s future beard on Lost. Letterman soon resorted to joking about Phoenix himself in order to salvage some of the interview.
Letterman asked about Phoenix’s days “with the Unabomber.” Phoenix at one point took his gum and stuck it to Letterman’s desk. By the end, Letterman gave up and commented that “I’m sorry you couldn’t be there tonight.”
Phoenix’s bizarre behavior and career change has already inspired many theories. Some say he’s on drugs, and some say he’s doing a satire of music stars and burn outs. The Letterman interview could give support to both explanations.
Letterman, for his part, once again found himself at the center of yet another news-making interview. This time, instead of battling Rod Blagojevich, John McCain or Bill O’Reilly, Letterman had to put up with a puzzling entertainment star. Letterman has experience in that too, with his famed trainwreck interviews with Farrah Fawcett, Crispin Glover and Drew Barrymore.
Letterman even gave an apology to Fawcett at the very end of the show, now that she may no longer be the strangest guest on Late Night.
Phoenix can be seen in better times in Two Lovers, coming out in limited release Friday.
Entertainment Weekly- “Joaquin Phoenix on ‘David Letterman’: Huh????” watching-tv.ew.com/2009/02/joaquin-phoenix.html
Z on TV- “Joaquin Phoenix, Letterman make remarkable TV” weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/zontv/2009/02/joaquin_phoenix_letterman_ston.html