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Casey Affleck Explains Joaquin Phoenix's Letterman Appearance on 'The Tonight Show' (VIDEO)

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 22nd 2010 9:35AM
Casey Affleck, 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno'Now that the cat is out of the bag, confirming the long-running theories that Joaquin Phoenix's very public psychological meltdown was in fact part of a bizarre movie project he was doing, The film's director, Casey Affleck, went on 'The Tonight Show' (Weeknights, 11:35PM on NBC) to try and clarify exactly what's been going on, including Phoenix's infamous bearded and off-kilter appearance on the 'Late Show' in January 2009.

When Jay Leno asked Affleck directly if David Letterman was in on the hoax, Affleck answered evasively. "Neither Joaquin or I ever talked to Dave," he said, leaving it wide open that someone else involved could have filled him in. "I told [Paul] Shaffer, but he's not going to tell anybody," Affleck joked.

"So you told people around Dave," Leno prodded, clearly doubting that Letterman wasn't in on the gag. He then explained the real reason he knew the interview was a staged ruse for the sake of the film. Letterman "didn't seem cranky enough."

Leno went on to use the word "cranky" three more times in explaining how Dave's general enjoyment of the wonky interview with Phoenix was proof that he knew the whole time he was being put on.

The rest of the interview clarified that Affleck does not consider the film a documentary as all the participants were acting, and sometimes off of a script. Nor does he really see it as a social experiment. He probably rejects the term mockumentary, as well, but there is one thing he will call the project. "I would just sort of call it a movie," he said.

In the end, after more than a year of shenanigans and confusion, the result is the movie 'I'm Still Here,' When it was released, critics were still thinking it was a true documentary of Phoenix's complete and total meltdown. Roger Ebert wrote, "The tragedy of Joaquin Phoenix's self-destruction has been made into 'I'm Still Here,' a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin. Here is a gifted actor who apparently by his own decision has brought desolation upon his head."

That the film has deceived people about its truthfulness to this degree could impact its ultimate acceptance as a piece of performance art, or "call it a movie." Time will tell. What do you think of this whole thing? Will you see 'I'm Still Here'? Will you support Joaquin Phoenix as he presumably tries to return to more traditional roles?

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Scott K

I'll see it eventually. At this point it doesn't really effect whether I'll see a movie he's in or not in the future.

I will be interesting to see how he acts on Letterman tonight.

September 22 2010 at 9:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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