How good an actor is Joaquin Phoenix? He plays a touchingly heart-broken, love-lorn ordinary guy in Spike Jonze' Her, yet we all suspect his real personality is closer to the bizarro performance art he displays on talk shows and the sort-of doc I'm Still Here. His conversation with Jimmy Fallon last night had a little bit of each.
After some vague talk about something that happened backstage -- sounds like Phoenix was rude to the Late Night staff because he wanted to find a place to smoke -- Fallon orchestrated a pact: he'll give up soda if Phoenix quits smoking.
And somehow in all of this, when Fallon jokingly said, "Are you breaking up with me?" Phoenix launched into a perfectly played, verge-of-tears break-up scene, as serious as if he were making his next big-screen drama.
It's a weird, dazzling, fascinating little performance. (And whatever you think of Phoenix, don't let it color your ideas about Her, which is dazzling in its own, different way.)