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Can Joaquin Phoenix's Career Be Saved? Watch Letterman Tonight!

by Anne Thompson
September 22, 2010 4:16 AM
8 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Suddenly, after two years of retirement, we are seeing photos of a clean shaven, slim, Joaquin Phoenix amid reports of movie deals in the offing. Will he join Leonardo DiCaprio in Clint Eastwood's Hoover as FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover's love interest Clyde Tolson? (UPDATE: The answer is no, as producer Rob Lorenz denies that Eastwood has expressed any interest in Phoenix for the role.) Or land a role opposite Jennifer Garner in Disney's The Odd Life of Timothy Green? Or play a foot fetishist in Steve Shainberg's latest off-beat narrative? His appearance on David Letterman tonight will be crucial to removing his recent druggy natty-haired image.

Here's a taste of the my latest Career Watch:

After impulsively declaring his retirement from acting in the fall of 2008 after wrapping the film 'Two Lovers,' Joaquin Phoenix gained a natty beard and a paunch, chased a new career as a hip hop artist and looked depressed and druggy on a February 2009 appearance on the 'Late Show With David Letterman' that was widely viewed on the Internet. Now that the world at large sees the 35-year-old actor as a basket case, Phoenix will need to do some serious repair work to reemerge from this two-year career hiatus. (The fact that his gifted, troubled older brother River died of a drug overdose does not help his case.)

Latest Misfire: Phoenix's life in retirement is the focus of the bizarre Casey Affleck mockumentary, 'I'm Still Here,' which tracked the ex-actor's pursuit of record producer P. Diddy, his increasingly debauched lifestyle and his musings about celebrity and acting. "I'm stuck in a ridiculous self-imposed prison of characterization," Phoenix explains in the film, seeking to escape being branded as "emotional, intense and complicated." He no longer wants to play "the character of Joaquin Phoenix." This documentary was his way of "doing something that represents me ... to bring what is inside me out."

The film debuted at the Venice Film Fest and moved on to Toronto, as Affleck deflected and misdirected the media, and the clean-shaven and slim Phoenix stayed behind the scenes to maintain the mystery. The movie was about "friendship, ambition and the dreams of an artist," Affleck said. Reviews were nasty and audiences stayed away in droves.

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More: Genres, Career Watch, Documentaries

8 Comments

  • The Cancer Man | November 1, 2010 6:37 AMReply

    The documentary was real.

    He watched it and realized how off-course he was.

    He lied to everyone and called it a hoax to try and salvage himself.

    Don't buy into it. He's a selfish man bent on self-destruction. Heard it here first.

    -The Cancer Man

  • havenskye | September 23, 2010 12:42 PMReply

    I love Joaquin and Casey for taking this huge step. They always manage to think outside the box and spawn creativity. I think the film exploits the evil of the industry on two angles. I love how it mocks reality TV and celebrities all in one. This is what makes Joaquin so talented he can be two people at once. I hope he works again with Casey Ben and Mark Wahlberg. I also like to see James Franco and Mark Ruffalo. I think they all have the unique ability to become their characters and make their stories real. Reality is only ones perception and in truth there are many different realities in one truth. Love you Joaquin you and your brother are the best at your craft!

    Havenskye
    Pittsburgh PA

  • Sky Taylor | September 23, 2010 12:28 PMReply

    This guy is a spoiled brat. It must be nice to act like a jerk for 2 years and then say it was a hoax. How can we be sure he isn't acting now? I hope he has a hard time getting another project. I'm done with him too. Don't fool your fans who are the ones that made you a millionaire.

  • Matt | September 22, 2010 11:53 AMReply

    you can watch a preview of Joaquin's appearance on tonight's Letterman here:
    http://bit.ly/atfGvJ

  • Lola | September 22, 2010 11:23 AMReply

    I honestly don't give a damn about "I'm Still Here", real or not. The guy is a fantastic actor, and when he finally does make another film - I know I'll be seeing it. Too bad about the Eastwood project, although I have to admit...I'm SUPER excited about the idea of Joaquin teaming up with Steve Shainberg. I adore Secretary, and if this does in fact include Mia Wasikowska...well, then I'd be in heaven.

  • Done With Phoenix | September 22, 2010 9:13 AMReply

    FOOL ME ONCE..... FOOL ME TWICE...

    I am forever done with Joaquin. Do NOT jerk me around, THEN ask for my VERY hard earned money to watch a FAKE documentary about a MILLIONAIRE Hollywood actor who THROWS his career away during a DEPRESSION!!!!!

    Game Over Phoenix.

    Bye.

  • Lana | September 22, 2010 7:20 AMReply

    I think Joaquin Phoenix is one of the best actors of our generation.
    He should have won the academy award for Walk the Line.
    I don't believe he ever went crazy, but even if he had, does that change the fact that he is an excellent actor?
    When he announced his retirement, I was devasted as he is my favorite actor. I know if he wants to act, he will have a full dance card soon.
    He is a great talent and will be sought after for many years to come.

  • mary | September 22, 2010 5:11 AMReply

    Thank you this well-written article, Anne.

    BTW, I think that "Two Lovers" was not a box office flop. "Two Lovers" grossed $3.1 million theatrically (respectful result for 2009 indie standard) and did very well in VOD.
    http://www.gravitasventures.com/news/vod_case_studies.html

    Joaquin Phoenix's performance in "Two Lovers" also received many favorable reviews from critics. So I think that "Two Lovers" advanced Joaquin Phoenix's career rather than hurted it.

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